Who is Behind Myanmar Junta’s Ye-U Massacre?

By The Irrawaddy 21 June 2022

The person most responsible for the deaths of 26 residents in Ye-U Township, Sagaing Region, recently reported by Radio Free Asia (RFA), is alleged to be the head of 4th Military Operations Command Brigadier General Kyi Thaik and Light Infantry Battalion 708 under his control.

The operations command, which is based in Phuu Gyi between Hmawbi and Taikkyi in northern Yangon Region, controls infantry units.

Light infantry divisions and military operations commands are formed for rapid response to enemy movements.

According to conversations between three Battalion 708 troops in the video obtained by RFA, the battalion commander ordered a sergeant to kill civilians.

The troops were acting on direct orders from a divisional commander, said a former captain who has abandoned the regime.

“A battalion commander will seek permission from the division chief on how to treat captives. The battalion commander will follow the orders,” he said.

Kyi Thaik was appointed in February last year following the coup. He has been in Sagaing since last year and returned to Phuu Gyi earlier this month.

After Brigadier General Phyo Thant was promoted to northwest commander in Monywa after the 2021 coup, Kyi Thaik succeeded him as operations commander.

Junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun told RFA that the regime is investigating the case.

A similar incident happened in northern Shan State in July 2016 when a divisional commander, who ordered the death of detained villagers, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Light Infantry Battalion 362 under the 10th Military Operations Command raided Wan Tat village in Lashio Township on June 26, 2016, and detained five male villagers.

Battalion commander Major Tin Myo Zaw phoned his operations chief, Colonel Myo Aung, about the five detainees. Myo Aung ordered their death and Tin Myo Zaw kept a recording, according to the former captain.

After villagers and a lawmaker filed a complaint, seven soldiers, including Myo Aung and Tin Myo Zaw, were tried at a court martial at the northeastern command and given five years in prison.

Myo Aung spent less than one year in prison after the military chief Min Aung Hlaing granted an amnesty.

Myo Aung is a nephew of Aung Thaung, who was an industry minister under the State Law and Order Restoration Council junta. His cousin is the current naval chief, Admiral Moe Aung and one of Aung Thaung’s sons.

Myo Aung has been a manager at Amata Distribution Co, an IGE Co subsidiary owned by one of Aung Thaung’s other sons, since late 2017.

A striking major said the court martial should prosecute the division and battalion commanders and soldiers involved in the killings in Ye-U if someone files a complaint.

However, those with wealth and contacts will avoid any serious punishment, he said.