Days of junta raids on Depayin Township villages displace thousands of locals 

A three-day military raid on villages in eastern Depayin Township, Sagaing Region, has forced thousands of locals to flee their homes. 

Multiple villagers who spoke to Myanmar Now said that junta troops were searching the Depayin villages of Namyar and Mayakan house by house on Monday, but locals from around 20 villages in three tracts had fled, afraid that their communities would be next.  

The total number of those displaced was not known at the time of reporting. Out of fear of contracting Covid-19, other nearby villages did not let those who were displaced seek refuge in their homes, the fleeing locals said. Instead, they have been forced to hide on the outskirts of the forests and around banana and lye tree farms. 

“It’s not going to be safe if they start looking through the forests. It’s just one big field without any shrubs or bushes to hide in. The only place we could hide is in the water,” a displaced Mayakan resident told Myanmar Now. 

The raids started on Sunday in Letyat Kone, Nyaung Hla, and Wea Gyi villages, where heavy artillery was also fired, according to locals. The night before, two military vehicles had been hit by landmines around four miles outside of Depayin town, near the village of Kya Khat. 

Motorcycles burnt by the military during a raid on Nyaung Hla village on August 8 (Supplied)

Junta troops who had previously raided Wea Gyi then came to Namyar and Mayakan in two groups on Monday morning, according to locals, who then fled. 

In the three days since the attack on the military vehicles, junta troops have occupied at least six villages within 15 miles of the area where the landmine blasts happened. 

“We’re monitoring the village from where we are,” a Namyar resident said while in hiding. “We didn’t see any fire but they were going through the houses one after another, taking the things they wanted.”

In Mayakan, locals said they saw the soldiers burn down a small shop and storm through at least 10 houses, stealing around 800,000 kyat (US$485) that had been left behind and valuables such as gold. 

“They destroyed everything they found in the shop at the edge of the village for no reason. They burned down all the petrol pumps. The shop had only started their business not too long ago,” the previous displaced Mayakan resident said. 

Before the troops arrived in Mayakan, another villager said eyewitnesses saw junta troops taking two middle-aged men from Wea Gyi to Mayakan on Monday morning; both reportedly had their hands tied behind their backs.

“We’re not sure if they were taken to guide [the soldiers] or as hostages. We also don’t know where the two men were from,” the local said. “Because this is the time for planting rice paddies, chances are, they took them from one of the farms.” 

After leaving Mayakan on Monday evening, the junta troops went on to occupy the neighbouring village of Daing Nat and remained there until Tuesday, according to displaced locals. At the time of reporting, the soldiers had reportedly left Daing Nat and were believed to have moved on to raid yet another village in the area, although details of the troop movements could not be confirmed.  

Myanmar Now tried to contact the military council’s information officers for comment on the allegations of arrest, theft and destruction of property, but all calls went unanswered.  

The junta has been subjecting Depayin Township villages to raids and brutal suppression of the anti-coup resistance movement since early June.

On July 2, the military raided the village of Satpyarkyin, which was known for its strong PDF presence. A series of battles followed, and soldiers pursued civilians who had fled, shooting. 

Some 26 PDF members were killed and more than 50 injured. 

The military has been accused of perpetrating other massacres in Yinmarbin, Kani, Taze, Chaung Oo and Shwebo townships in Sagaing Region. 

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