After burning down their homes, junta’s soldiers and militiamen return to rob villagers living in tents 

A mob of Pyu Saw Htee militiamen and soldiers last month robbed supplies from a group of hundreds of displaced villagers who were sheltering in tents in the forest after junta forces burned down houses in their village in Sagaing Region’s Pale Township. 

Members of the junta-backed militia helped soldiers burn down 97 homes in Kaing Twin on February 4, forcing many of the village’s 1,000 residents to flee into the forest to the north of the village. 

But on February 20 the junta’s forces returned and stole supplies donated by people in neighbouring villages, as well as belongings such as kitchen appliances, clothing and jewellery that the displaced people had managed to salvage from the fires. 

They also robbed shops in the village of rice, oil, and other food supplies that had been set aside for those staying in the forest, and set fire to tents that had been set up in the south of Kaing Twin to store the displaced people’s possessions, said a local man whose house was burned down. 

“They took very scarce supplies from us,” he told Myanmar Now. “We lost everything in the tents.” The soldiers and militiamen later went into the forest to rob the locals who were camping there as well, he added. 

“The Pyu Saw Htee and the military only stopped after they had taken two carts full of supplies from us. They took all the valuable jewellery and clothes and carried them away on bull-drawn carts that were left in the village. They also took four cows from the village to eat,” he added.

The Pyu Saw Htee members are based one and half miles away from Kaing Twin in a village called In Ma Htee.

A local volunteer aid worker from Kaing Twin, who himself lost his home in the fires, said it had not been possible to collect donations from afar. “Sending supplies is hard because some of it always gets confiscated mid-way, especially in Pale,” he said. 

On Thursday the displaced locals fled their camp in the forest after learning that junta forces in In Ma Htee had been told once again to “collect supplies” via a loudspeaker announcement, he added.  

Pyu Saw Htee members and soldiers have reportedly banned people from entering or leaving In Ma Htee village and have robbed the nearby villages of Min Taing Pin and Hlaw Kar, a spokesperson for a local armed resistance group told Myanmar Now. 

Tens of thousands of people were displaced from those and other villages in early February as the junta’s forces rampaged through the area looting and burning homes. 

The junta’s chief minister for Sagaing, Myat Kyaw, said in a meeting in Naypyitaw on February 13 that the military has armed 77 militias in the region as part of its efforts to crush resistance to its rule, according to a leaked document.  

On February 21 the Pale PDF attacked a group of Pyu Saw Htee members and soldiers who were occupying the village of Zee Phyu Kone and rescued some 40 trapped villagers. 

Since then, the junta’s arson attacks on villages in the area have stopped, the group’s spokesperson said.

Related Articles

Back to top button