Thousands of Sagaing Region Villagers Flee Myanmar Military

By The Irrawaddy 26 April 2021

Several thousands of Sagaing Region villagers have fled their homes since April 20 after Myanmar’s military deployed in the area following shootouts with civilians.

Villagers across Yinmabin Township are living in a state of fear amid the military raids, residents told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

On April 20, shootouts near Kapaing, Thigone and Thityarpin villages saw civilians fight hundreds of military troops passing through the area.

Junta forces used artillery against villagers using traditional, homemade percussion firearms and slingshots, according to residents.

More than 10 villagers have been killed and several dozen detained. Troops were based in Kapaing after raiding the village, residents said.

They left the village on Friday but more than 200 troops and military medics returned in 21 vehicles on Sunday, saying they will restore order.

Kapaing, Thigone, Kabyu and Paungwa villages have been empty since last Tuesday.

A Kapaing villager told The Irrawaddy that the troops looted all food, chickens, pigs, motorcycles and money from the village last Tuesday. They even stole women’s clothing.

Most of the villagers are living in the forest and farmland away from their homes and lack health care, food and water, residents said.

A Kapaing villager, who has been sheltering in a forest with his family for six days, said: “We are really angry about the failure of the international communities to help us.

“We must depend on ourselves. We will run away from the troops and, if we are trapped, we will fight,” the villager told The Irrawaddy.

On Monday, troops raided the neighboring village of Lattkapyar and searched for villagers in the nearby forest, residents said.

After being paid a ransom, junta forces on Saturday released about 50 Wingone villagers who were seized while trying to retrieve dead bodies after the April 20 clash.

“The rest of the villagers raised the ransom demanded by the soldiers,” a villager told The Irrawaddy.

On Saturday, troops raided Thapyay Aye village in the township, looting money, chickens and pigs as villagers fled, a resident told The Irrawaddy.

Troops also raided the village’s monastery, which was seen as a focal point for anti-regime demonstrations. The junta forces seized about 15 laptops used for vocational training and destroyed some buildings at the monastery.

On April 2, a prolonged clash was reported near Thapyay Aye village in the township after residents from across the township fought nearly 100 troops approaching the village.

Two villagers were killed and at least eight were detained by troops.

By Sunday more than 750 civilian deaths had been reported by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Those killed include anti-regime protesters, National League for Democracy (NLD) members, bystanders and residents.

More than 3,400 people, including elected leaders, NLD members, election commissioners, protesters, doctors, journalists, writers, artists and teachers, have been detained.

Despite the violence, tens of thousands of people across Myanmar continue to protest against military rule.

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