More than 40 Karenni State civilians killed by Myanmar army in one month

At least 45 local people were killed in military shellings, airstrikes and massacres on the ground in Karenni State in January, according to documentation compiled by local organisations. 

After comparing data and eliminating duplicate entries, 30 of the casualties were recorded by the Karenni Human Rights Group (KnHRG), with the Shwe Nyaung Pin social welfare group adding 15 more. 

“This is a crime committed by the inhumane military council, and it is our aim to prosecute the perpetrators in the future,” KnHRG director Banyar said, adding that more support is needed for the family members of the victims. 

Six of those killed were shot during an airstrike, and four died of what is believed to have been cardiac arrest during artillery fire. Two more people were fatally wounded in blasts caused by the artillery. 

The victims were from Bawlakhe, Demoso, Hpruso and Loikaw townships. 

Some 23 bodies of civilians were found in six wards in Loikaw, a member of the Shwe Nyaung Bin group said. The bodies often had visible lacerations and gunshot wounds to the head. The cause of death was not always able to be determined, depending on the state of the corpse and how long it had been left.

“The bodies were found on motorbikes, in roadside ditches, on the road, and inside homes and kitchens,” the Shwe Nyaung Pin member said. 

According to a statement released by the Karenni Civil Society Network in late January, a total of 198 civilians had been murdered in Karenni State since the military coup in February last year. Nationwide, the number is believed to be more than 1,500, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 

Karenni State has a population of more than 300,000, more than 170,000 of whom have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing clashes between the military and the resistance in Demoso, Hpruso and Loikaw townships, as well as Pekhon Township in neighbouring Shan State.  

In a statement released on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the coup, US President Joe Biden said that the Myanmar junta had “perpetrated countless brutal actions and committed unspeakable violence against civilians, including children.” 

He added that the US would work with allies—including ASEAN members—to hold those responsible for the coup and attacks on civilians accountable. 

The EU’s high representative also published a statement claiming that the bloc “stands ready to adopt further restrictive measures against those responsible for undermining democracy and the serious human rights violations in Myanmar.”

The junta has not responded to either the statements from the international community or those released by local groups in Karenni State, but has blamed the People’s Defence Force for the killings in the state and elsewhere in the country. 

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