Videos of suspected Tatmadaw soldiers beating civilian detainees go viral

Videos of five young men being beaten by what appear to be partially-uniformed Tatmadaw soldiers went viral online Sunday.

Three of the five young men being beaten in the video were among 38 villagers the Tatmadaw detained in Rakhine state’s Ponnagyun township on April 19, their relatives confirmed to Myanmar Now.

A Tatmadaw spokesperson told local media the following day the military detained the villagers on suspicions of harboring ties to the Arakan Army (AA), an armed rebel group the government has deemed a terrorist organisation.

Fighting between the two groups has been ongoing since late 2018, displacing at least 100,000 people by Human Rights Watch’s estimate.

In the videos, men in Myanmar army and navy gear beat the blindfolded and handcuffed men repeatedly.

“We’ll kill all of you,” a man in a Tatmadaw hat shouts as he steps on the detainees’ faces and stomps on their chests.

“What’s your rank? Private?” he asks one of them, who is dressed in a civilian’s white tank top, before punching him in the face.

Tens of thousands of people have shared the videos on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and the Russian social media network VK.


Nyi Nyi Aung’s (in white vest) identity was confirmed by his uncle.

The young man in the white tank top is Mg Nyi Nyi Aung – one of the 38 detained from Kyauk Seik village on April 19 – his uncle Saw Thein Maung told Myanmar Now.

The first two videos, about one and two minutes each, were uploaded by Facebook user Aungnai Aung Nai at 10am on May 10.

Then, at 10:21am, a Facebook page called Rathedaung Media uploaded a seven-minute video of the same incident filmed from a different angle.

Myanmar Now saw the same videos posted by different Facebook users earlier in the day, but those posts appear to have been removed.

Of the 38 villagers detained on April 19, 33 were released the next day.

Relatives believe Nyi Nyi Aung, 24, Maung Chay, 27, Kyaw Win Hein, 22, Myo Min Aung, 26, and Myo Lin Oo, 24, are still being held at the Ponnagyun police station, where they were able to speak with them on May 7 and 8.

Men in partial Myanmar military uniforms are seen in the video.

On April 23 the military filed anti-terrorism charges with Ponnagyun police against the five men. The charges carry life sentences.

Relatives told Myanmar Now they saw the five taken in a military vehicle from the police station to Gu Wa village, about half a mile north of Ponnagyun, at about 7:30am on April 27.

The detainees later told relatives they were taken by navy boat to Sittwe, the state capital, to be interrogated later that day. Their relatives told Myanmar Now they believe the videos were filmed on this trip.

Major General Tun Tun Nyi, vice chairman of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team, told Myanmar Now the military is investigating the video.

Saw Thein Maung believes the detainees were in the custody of military intelligence officers in Sittwe until April 30, then put in police custody in Ponnagyun sometime before May 7, when he and others were able to speak with them.

Myanmar Now could not reach Ponnagyun police for comment.

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