Soldiers from the Myanmar military are suspected of carrying out the torture and murder of six civilians, including four teenage boys, in a predominantly Christian area of Kayah State.
The bodies were discovered dumped in a sewage pit in Yay-yo village, Loikaw Township, on 26 January.
The dead were identified as 17-year-olds Eugene, Fei Dae Le and David Kyaw Soe, and 16-year-old John Paul. The two other victims have yet to be named but have been confirmed as residents of the township’s Naung Yar Ward.
A villager said the victims showed signs of torture as well as bullet and stab wounds. One had a bullet wound in the back.
Soldiers entered the village on 25 January and went into Eugene’s house at about 7pm. A neighbour later saw three people, all with their hands tied behind their backs, being led away by the soldiers. Eugene was his family’s sole breadwinner following the recent death of his father from illness.
Days after the grim discovery in Yay-yo village, the bodies of two more civilians were uncovered in Loikaw Township. Daw Muta, 63, and her 23-year-old son, Saw Dar Htoo, were found in Htudu-Ngantha village on 28 January. The cause of their deaths has yet to be determined.
According to the Karenni Human Rights Group, 32 civilians have been killed in military attacks in Kayah State since the start of January. A seven-year-old girl was among three killed when two helicopter gunships bombed a camp for internally displaced persons on 17 January.
“Unfortunately there are more killings, a lot of killings,” a contact told Barnabas Fund. “Please keep praying for us.”
In June 2021 the United Nations warned of “mass deaths from starvation, disease and exposure” in Kayah State after “brutal and indiscriminate attacks” against civilians by the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw.
The Tatmadaw seized power in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in a coup on 1 February 2021, and has for decades persecuted Myanmar’s Christian-majority Chin, Kachin and Karen ethnic groups as well as the Muslim-majority Rohingya.
From Barnabas contacts and other sources