Villager ‘Raped, Killed by Myanmar Junta Troops as She Ran to Rescue Her Children’

By The Irrawaddy 11 October 2022

A woman shot by junta troops during an attack last month on Let Yet Kone village in Sagaing Region’s Depyin township was allegedly raped before being killed, according to local sources.

Thirteen civilians were brutally killed by regime air strikes followed by a ground assault on Let Yet Kone village on September 16. Two Russian-made Mi-35 military helicopters killed five children after opening fire on the village school, before regime soldiers were dropped by helicopter at the north of the village to launch the raid.

Ma Yuu, 37, was fatally shot as she herded cows in the east of the village. She was among eight villagers including two children killed by junta troops in the ground assault. The bodies of five villagers, including Ma Yuu, the only female victim, were dumped in the nearby Mu River.

Ma Yuu’s body was retrieved the next day, September 17. Villagers said her lower body had been stripped of clothing and the buttons of her long-sleeved shirt were undone.

She had been shot in the head while her fingers had been broken and her earrings were missing, presumed looted.

“We believe she was raped by soldiers before being killed. I took the body from the river myself,” said one of the villagers.

Ma Yuu’s two daughters, a second-grader and eighth-grader, were at the village school when the attack began. Her husband warned her to seek cover as the regime helicopters hovered overhead, but instead she ran towards the school. The junta soldiers intercepted her before she got there, Ma Khin Aye, a Let Yet Kone villager, told the Irrawaddy.

Eight students and five teachers injured in the attack were taken hostage. Two with serious injuries were released while the others were detained by the regime troops.

Village residents said Ma Yuu and her husband were from an illiterate family who worked hard to send their daughters to be educated at school.

“Ma Yuu was always smiling and warm-hearted,” said Ma Khin Aye. “She and her husband left for the forest every morning and then returned in the afternoon to herd cows until evening.”

The couple took care of the village herd in return for 3,000 kyats per month, sometimes topped up with a ration of rice.

Ma Yuu’s death has left her family distraught and in need.

“Ma Yuu’s husband told us he couldn’t herd cows because he misses his wife,” Ma Khin Aye said .

“It’s cruel; they [soldiers] do whatever they want. As long as these military dogs exist, no one is safe, ” she said.

The brutal attack on Let Yet Kone came one month after regime soldiers raped at least seven women during raids on two villages in Kani Township, Sagaing Region.

Six women aged between 25 and 40 were confirmed to have been raped by soldiers during the raid on a village in the township on August 28, according to Kani’s General Strike Committee.

Sagaing is an anti-regime stronghold where clashes between junta troops and resistance forces are reported almost daily.

Regime troops have responded to the fierce resistance by launching airstrikes before raiding villages to torture and kill civilians and take civilian detainees as human shields.