Myanmar troops torch Sagaing region village a second time

Disaster has once again hit a community in northwestern Myanmar’s war-torn Sagaing region.
Junta troops on Monday burned down 17 homes in Mon Taing Pin village in Ye-U township, a former local lawmaker and resident said. 
It was the same army battalion that massacred 29 villagers and torched more than 70 homes there in May 2022.
Other Myanmar troops and supporting militias torched 30 homes in Kyunhla township on May 29 and 30, forcing more than 3,000 residents to flee, according to villagers. 
Sagaing has been an anti-junta stronghold and cradle of resistance to the country’s brutal military rule since the army seized power in a February 2021 coup.
In the latest incident, soldiers from the army’s Light Infantry Battalion 708 based in Ye-U burned the houses after local pro-junta informers took them to the homes of civilians they accused of being democracy activists, they said.
A destroyed motorbike lies on the ground in Mon Taing Pin village, Ye-U township, in northwestern Myanmar"s Sagaing region, following the torching of homes there by junta forces , May 31, 2023. Credit: Citizen journalist
“The military did it to suppress a village that has unity, honor and great revolutionary strength,” said Myint Htwe, an elected parliamentarian representing Ye-U township before the coup and a leader of the local People’s Defense Force operating under Myanmar’s parallel government.
“We can see it because they chose to destroy only this village again and in particular with malice among all villages that they entered,” he said.
Myint Htwe said he requested photo evidence of the latest torching incident, and that the shadow National Unity Government has given 50,000 kyats (US$24) in humanitarian aid to each affected family.
Nowhere to live
Junta forces have swept through villages across Sagaing region, sometimes more than once, to find and punish suspected resistance fighters belonging to People’s Defense Forces and their civilian supporters.
A Mon Taing Pin resident told Radio Free Asia on condition of anonymity for safety reasons that families who lost their homes now have nowhere to live.
“Since we have lost our houses, we have to stay in other people’s houses,” the villager said. “My house, my daughter’s and my brother-in-law’s were among the houses burned down.” 
Junta forces torched not only the houses of families they suspect of being revolutionaries, but also those of teachers who participated in the nationwide civil disobedience movement following the coup.
Myanmar soldiers and members of the pro-regime Pyu Saw Htee militia also raided and set ablaze 30 homes in Koke Ko Kone and Hlut Taik village tracts in Kyun Hla township, prompting thousands to flee to safety, though some returned after the forces left the area, a resident said. 
“They came in an area-clearing strategy,” the villager said. “They attacked places along the river banks and burned down huts and buildings there. They also carried away civilian property on their vehicles. Some villagers could return to their homes, but others are still in hiding.”
RFA could not reach the junta spokesman for Sagaing region for comment. 
Between Feb. 1 2021 — the date of the coup — and this Feb. 28, junta forces burned an estimated 60,000 houses, of which between 50%–75% were in Sagaing region, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.
Translated by Myo Min Aung for RFA Burmese. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.


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