NUG opens probe into brutal killing of woman by members of its resistance force 

Warning: Within this article is a detailed description of a killing which may be upsetting to some readers. 

Myanmar’s publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG) has been carrying out a probe into the execution of a civilian by members of a resistance force under its command near Sagaing Region’s border with India. 

A video emerged on social media over the weekend in which around a dozen armed men and women are seen beating a woman before shooting her dead in the middle of a road. 

Naing Htoo Aung, secretary of the NUG’s defence ministry, told Myanmar Now on Monday that the incident happened in the town of Tamu in June and that at least some of the alleged perpetrators belonged to the 4th Battalion of the Tamu District chapter of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF).

He said that the ministry is investigating the killing and has directed the battalion commander to place three members who were involved—two men and one woman—in detention.

Further details regarding both the probe and how the NUG will take action against the other PDF members seen in the video were still unclear at the time of reporting. Naing Htoo Aung also said that the ministry was not aware of the incident prior to the video’s circulation on social media.

The victim in the more than three minutes of footage was identified as 25-year-old Aye Mar Tun. Members of the resistance force are seen repeatedly punching her in the head, kicking her, pulling her hair and hitting her with a rifle butt, all while she is handcuffed. 

Her face swollen, she is seen crying and begging them to stop. 

A woman slaps her and orders her to admit she was an informant. 

To this she replies, “I wasn’t,” before her speaking becomes inaudible due to the continued abuse.

One of the armed individuals is heard saying to another member who attacked her, “You don’t need to punch her that much.”

He then says to the victim, “You like money that much, huh?” in a reference to the allegation that she had worked for the military. 

After the beating, the perpetrators blindfold Aye Mar Tun by placing a black face mask over her eyes, and remove her handcuffs. They then order her to kneel in the middle of a road and to put both of her hands behind her head.  

Using a rifle, a member of the group then shoots her once from behind at close range, only the barrel of the gun visible in the video’s frame. Aye Mar Tun immediately falls forward. The gunman then walks over to her body, and, standing over her, shoots her in the head four more times, leaving her skull visibly broken. 

At this point, the footage ends. 

“We cannot accept such a hideous [crime]. Even if they want to take action against the woman, it must be in line with the code of conduct or they must form a tribunal,” the NUG’s Naing Htoo Aung said.

He attributed the primary cause of such problems to a “lack of precautions” taken by resistance forces, and a failure to adhere to the code of conduct imposed by the NUG’s defence ministry.

He also claimed that the PDF members had been acting in retaliation for the killing of one of their resistance group members by junta personnel, an attack in which Aye Mar Tun was accused of being involved.

Members of Tamu PDF’s Battalion 1 are seen in July (Tamu PDF Battalion 1)

There are at least 18 armed resistance groups—both independent  forces and those under the NUG’s command—based in Tamu Township, including the 4th Battalion of the Tamu PDF, which is implicated in the execution in question. 

A spokesperson from the Tamu Township People’s Defence Team (PDT)—also known by its Burmese acronym of Pa Ka Pha—which oversees the local PDF’s 4th battalion, said that his group would follow NUG’s guidance in determining how to hold the resistance force members accountable. 

The Tamu Township PDT spokesperson alleged that the slain woman was a member of the Pyu Saw Htee militia, which is trained and armed by the Myanmar army. He claimed that she had been involved in the arrest and killing of a 17-year-old member of the Tamu PDF in April of this year.

He said that members of the resistance forces had captured Aye Mar Tun because she had been accused of attempting to gather intelligence on the location of resistance forces’ camps in the area.

“We arrested her and then questioned her to make sure. She became afraid and tried to seize a gun [from a resistance force member]. And then this incident happened unexpectedly,” the PDT spokesperson said, referring to her killing.

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify his claims.

A source close to the Tamu PDF said that junta troops overran six resistance camps in Tamu Township, including two belonging to PDF battalions, in mid-November. The soldiers obtained the video file of Aye Mar Tun’s execution from a mobile phone seized at one of the camps.

The video was first posted on social media by an unidentified Facebook account on November 19, but was later deleted. On December 3, the video was circulating on Telegram channels among pro-military users.

The NUG said in a statement on Monday that the incident was “in contravention of the code of conduct and rules and engagement” it had laid out. 

“If anyone is found to be in breach of any of the rules stipulated by law, a severe penalty will be imposed on those found guilty, as this is an unacceptable situation,” the statement said.

Vowing to prevent such incidents from happening again, the NUG warned all armed organisations and anti-junta law enforcement groups under the NUG’s command “not to fall into the trap of acting like the forces of the terrorist military council by committing atrocities and barbarities.” 

During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, NUG Prime Minister Mahn Win Khaing Than urged defence minister Yee Mon to inform all resistance force members that they could not be “lawless” and “lack consideration” like junta soldiers.

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