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Myanmar Military Facing Allegations of Having Carried Out a Brutal Slaughter in Rakhine Region

  • Posted on June 6, 2024
  • News

Survivors accuse Myanmar's military of massacring dozens of civilians, including torture and burning them alive, during a raid on a village in Rakhine State amid fighting with ethnic rebels.


The survivors and the ethnic rebels of the army have been reported to have committed a gruesome genocide in a village in Rakhine State last week that killed as many as 48 civilians.  

The BBC gathered testimonies from some of the survivors and determined that at least 50 people aged 15 to 70 were reported to have been “violently tortured and killed” in the village of Byai Phyu on Wednesday during the army’s raid. Myanmar’s ousted civilian government, the National Unity Government (NUG), reported the death toll at 51, while the involved ethnic Arakan Army rebels put the number of deaths at over 70.

This was the testimony of the survivors who stated that there were two and a half days of terror during which the soldiers were blindfolding and beating the villagers, pouring petrol on them, and offering them to drink urine. It was reported that the army had been especially cruel to men with tattooed arms of the Arakan Army, chopping off the tattooed skin and then gingerly burning it.

“They burned our skin,” one woman said that soldiers asked the men whether the Arakan Army was in the village, and then shot the men regardless of their reply.  

The village is Byai Phyu which is an ethnic Rakhine village with more than one thousand households and situated near the state capital Sittwe. The villagers testified that the soldiers forced the entire population of Mbarakwena to stay outside for two days with limited access to food and water while they restrained, gagged, and questioned more than twenty men and took others in trucks. Many have not returned.

Myanmar military has been fighting the Arakan Army and other ethnic rebel groups since February after its February 2021 coup and denied the allegations, stating that it only conducted a ‘Peace and Security Operation’ after identifying rebel bunkers in the village. Nevertheless, the run is believed to be employing the ‘shock and awe’ type of strategy and has been accused of carrying out massacres and other abuses, especially against the Rohingya Muslims.

The reported Byai Phyu massacre, if substantiated, would rank among the worst single events of violence in Myanmar’s three-year conflict. The National Unity Government promised to punish the individuals involved in the crime as war criminals, while the Arakan Army alleged that the military had displayed ‘vicious cruelty’ and included rape attacks on women.

Also Read: Border Drug Bust: Myanmar Nationals Apprehended in Mizoram Methamphetamine Seizure

As Rakhine State is closed out of the fighting, an independent investigation is unlikely for the time being. However, the raw accounts narrated by survivors bring out the horror of the military’s brutality in its bid to regain lost territory from insurgent groups.

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