Analysis

Myanmar’s Resistance Forces Treat Prisoners Humanely Despite Junta War Crimes

By Nayt Thit ​​​​​​ 29 October 2022

Amid numerous extrajudicial executions, violations of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes by Myanmar’s junta, resistance groups and their allied ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) reportedly treat their prisoners of war humanely.

The junta repeatedly claims to follow the rules of armed conflict while its forces execute detainees, including supporters and members of the ousted National League for Democracy.

In early October, 11 NLD members and supporters, who were accused of helping resistance forces, were stabbed to death while in junta detention over two days in Nyaung-U, Taung Tha, Natogyi and Kyaukse townships in Mandalay Region. Junta-appointed administrators were involved in the arrests.

In late June, nine resistance members, including four teenagers, in Wetlet Township, Sagaing Region, were executed after being arrested unarmed while they were traveling to adjacent Shwebo Township for medical training.

In early May, regime forces massacred 29 out of more than 30 male villagers detained during a raid on Mon Taing Pin village in Ye-U Township, Sagaing Region.

The charred bodies of 10 villagers seized by regime forces at Don Taw village in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region, in early December last year. / CJ

In July Radio Free Asia and other outlets published images and videos from a soldier’s cell phone who took part in the atrocity.

A photo shows five dead villagers who appear to have been stabbed in their abdomens and throats while blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs.

One of the victim’s sons told The Irrawaddy said they were accused of helping resistance groups.

A video shows soldiers boasting about how many detainees they have killed and by which methods.

Prisoners of war must be humanely treated without having their health seriously endangered while in custody, according to the Geneva Conventions.

Deprivation of these rights or harming a combatant who has surrendered is a war crime under the charter.

Meanwhile, the civilian National Unity Government has ordered its forces to follow the convention.

Regime Major Aung Kyaw Min was captured unconscious and seriously injured along with 16 comrades by the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) during a shootout in Kyainseikgyi Township, Karen State, on October 16.

“[The KNLA troops] saved my life and properly treated my serious injuries. They treated us humanely,” the major told the media.

Zin Moe Aung, formerly of Light Infantry Battalion 434, had been told that resistance forces would cut his throat if he was captured.

But when he was seized by the KNLA and its resistance allies in Ye Township, Mon State, in September, he was treated well.

“They treated us like their brothers. I really thank them for their kind and warm treatment,” he told the media.

A Karen National Union medical team treat a regime soldier detained during a clash in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, in July. / PVTV

Saw Liston, the Dooplaya District secretary of the KNLA’s political wing, the Karen National Union, said the group’s policy is to treat prisoners of war humanely.

“We are not murderers. We can’t act like the regime,” he said.

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