Junta soldiers ‘lead captured guerrilla fighter to cemetery with a noose around his neck’ before killing him

A young man who was a member of a local defence force in Sagaing Region was found dead on Monday evening under a pile of sawdust, 12 days after he was seen being led into a cemetery by junta soldiers with a noose around his neck. 

Ye Min Zaw, 21, was part of a self-organising guerrilla group in Htigyaing Township’s Bo Te Kone village that attacked junta convoys with explosives, said Daung Ni, a member of another resistance group that collaborated with Ye Min Zaw’s. 

Several witnesses saw junta soldiers leading Ye Min Zaw to the Bo Te Kone village cemetery when he was taken on March 2, Daung Ni said: “They borrowed two shovels from the villagers. People saw a noose around his neck too. He was already badly bruised.” 

His body was found with a bullet wound at an old sawmill near the village of Kyauk Aik, which is a mile from Bo Te Kone. 

“The body was already badly disfigured but we recognised the clothes and slippers he was wearing and that his hair was dyed. We found him face down in a hole,” Daung Ni said.

Daung Ni said his group took photos and videos of the body but was unable to send them to media or publish them online because the junta has cut off internet access to the region. 

Kyauk Aik is 10 miles away from Htigyaing’s urban centre and has over 500 households. To get to Kyauk Aik from Htigyaing, one has to pass through several other villages, including Bo Te Kone. 

Ye Min Zaw’s group had launched several attacks on junta soldiers passing through the villages on their way from Htigyaing using homemade explosives, Daung Ni said. 

“They’re a makeshift guerrilla force. They make explosive devices on their own to attack the junta’s forces. Their explosives are very efficient as well,” he said.

The junta has launched a scorched earth campaign in Sagaing aimed at stamping out a tenacious armed resistance movement there, with its soldiers massacring civilians and torching villages. 

Htigyaing sits at Sagaing’s borders with Mandalay Region and Shan State, along the Ayeyarwady river. Since January, the military has intensified operations in the area, leading to numerous clashes with local defence forces.  

Before the coup Ye Min Zaw, who had three siblings and lived with his parents, was just a typical young man who loved video games, a relative of his said. He joined the armed resistance in October.

“He was never interested in politics,” said the relative. “He never even read anything on politics. However when he began to see the atrocities that the military is committing on the internet, he said he felt guilty just staying at home and doing nothing. We tried to stop him but he had already made the decision. We finally had to let him go.” 

Ye Min Zaw’s father, who also asked not to be named, said he would continue fighting to overthrow the junta after his son’s death. “I would like to tell the citizens of Myanmar to not lose hope. I am not giving up either. We have to continue fighting until the end.” he said.

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