Residents of Gangaw village terrorised after refusing to join Pyu Saw Htee militia

Regime forces have been terrorising residents of a village in Magway Region’s Gangaw Township following a pair of attacks last month on junta targets, according to local sources.

At least five people living in the village of Taung Khin Yan have been killed and several others have been detained or shot since a military officer was killed on May 11 and the village’s police station was attacked two weeks later, the sources said.

The village, which is located about 65km north of the town of Gangaw on the Gangaw-Kalay highway, has a population of around 4,000—many of whom have fled over the past month due to fears for their safety.

“We had to flee as they were relentlessly capturing and killing people,” said one resident, noting that most of those targeted were individuals who had refused to join the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia.

Taung Khin Yan is surrounded by villages dominated by the Pyu Saw Htee, whose members routinely take part in military raids on communities suspected of harbouring anti-regime groups.

According to another man who no longer lives in the village, the reason Taung Khin Yan has been singled out has more to do with its residents’ refusal to be recruited into the militia group than with last month’s attacks.

“Fewer than 10 people were willing to join the Pyu Saw Htee, so now they are trying to instil fear in us through violence,” he said.

The first incident occurred a day after the military officer was killed. On May 12, the junta forces captured a man in his 20s named Nani, killed him, and threw his body into the Myittha River, according to the man, who did not want to be identified.

“They shot him in the head after beating him and dragging him to the riverbank,” he said, adding that another man in his 40s named Thet Naung was later found decapitated after being captured by the military.

The most recent killings were on June 2, when three middle-aged men, including two from a neighbouring village, were reportedly shot dead by junta reinforcement troops.

There were also reports of a man who was shot in the pelvis and of a woman who was detained and not released until her family paid 4,000,000 kyat (US$1,900) in bribes.

Myanmar Now has been unable to independently confirm this information.

Many of Taung Khin Yan’s residents are now living with relatives in other villages or in makeshift shelters, according to the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, which says it has built shelters for around 100 displaced families.

According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced persons in Myanmar, mostly as a result of the military’s attacks on civilians since it seized power in February 2021.

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