On Wednesday Jun 16th, reports said most of a village in the country’s central heartland is burnt to the ground. A local resident said Myanmar’s government troops are responsible for the incident. This confirms the reports by various independent media groups as well as social media.
An attempt to suppress resistance against the ruling military junta appears to be the reason for this action.
In recent months the junta is trying to subdue an emerging nationwide revolution. However, the burning incident is the latest example of how violence has become widespread in much of Myanmar.
A non-violent civil disobedience movement arose to challenge military rule after the army seized power in a February coup. The junta overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, while seizing power. Rather than ending resistance, the junta uses deadly force to repress resistance movements.
Footage on social media
On Wednesday, the devastation of Kinma village could be seen in photos and videos circulating widely on social media. The village is located in the Magway region.
There was video footage showing the charred bodies of farm animals. The fire wiped out nearly the entire village. This resulted in only 10 out of 237 houses still standing, according to an anonymous villager over the phone. The villager said that most residents had already run off when soldiers entered the village shortly before noon on Tuesday. The soldiers opened fire randomly.
Villagers had set up a village defence force to protect themselves against the junta’s troops and police. Many such local defence forces mostly carry simple homemade hunting rifles. The villager believes the troops were hunting for members of Kinma village’s defence force.
The Kinma village defence force gave an advance warning of the troops’ arrival to the residents. When the junta began searching houses in the afternoon, there were only four or five people remaining in the village. The troops set homes on fire after finding nothing, according to the villager.
The anonymous villager said “There are some forests just nearby our village. Most of us fled into the forests.”
There were three casualties according to the villager. The first casualty is a boy, a goat-herder, who received a bullet in the thigh. The second and third casualties were and an elderly couple who were unable to flee. Several news media reported the elderly couple missing, although the villager believes the couple died.
When asked if he intends to return to the village, the villager said: “No, we dare not to. We think it isn’t over. We will shift to other villages. Even if we go back to our village, there is no place to stay because everything is burnt”.
The burning down of Kinma is attracting special attention. In the Magway region, the Burman or Barmar ethnic group is predominant. It is unusual for Burmans to be the target of such severe measures, as they constitute the country’s power-holding majority.
Forming a future opposition federal army is the aim of the village defence forces. Some village defence force groups have teamed up with ethnic minority groups in border areas. These ethnic minority groups have been at war with the central government for decades. They are fighting for autonomy from the central government.
The border regions are where most of the most violent fighting takes place. In fact, ethnic groups such as the Kachin in the north, the Karenni in the east and the Chin in the west control these areas. The military stations government forces in these areas to fight against them.
Back in 2017, the army went on a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the western state of Rakhine. Army troops burned many villages of the Muslim Rohingya minority. Their actions drove over 700,000 Rohingyas to flee across the border and seek safety in Bangladesh.
Very few Burmese protested against the army’s treatment of the Rohingya. There is widespread prejudice in Myanmar against the Rohingya. Now, international courts are considering whether the counterinsurgency campaign constitutes genocide.
On Wednesday, some people commented that the burning of Kinma made Rohingya claims of mistreatment more credible on social media.
17th June 2021 23:00
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