Byai Phyu: Eyewitnesses accuse Myanmar military of massacre

Byai Phyu: Eyewitnesses accuse Myanmar military of massacre

Jonathan Head & Burmese Service ,BBC News

Getty Images This photo taken on May 21, 2024 shows a destroyed house and burned trees following fighting between Myanmar's military and the Arakan Army (AA) ethnic minority armed group in a village in Minbya Township in western Rakhine StateGetty Images

Local people and criticism makes claim that at least 50 people were killed by Myanmar military last week in a attack on a township in Rakhine State.

Warning: You may find some of the information in this part disturbing

According to eyewitnesses, the town was thrown into the ground by soldiers who were blindfolded, beat them up, poured burning gasoline on their body, and forced some of them to consume their blood for two and a half days of despair.

They were looking for supporters of Myanmar’s Arakan Army ( AA ), which has developed into one of the most potent ethnic fighting units.

Fifty one people aged between 15 and 70 were “violently tortured and killed”, the National Unity Government ( NUG), representing the ousted civilian government, said in a statement. More than 70 people were reportedly killed, according to the AA.

The reigning military government, or junta, has denied the accustations, which would number to one of the worst crimes committed in the three yr- ancient Myanmar civil war.

” They asked the gentlemen if the AA was in this village”, one person told the BBC.

” Whatever answer they gave, whether they said AA was there or it was n’t, or they did n’t know, the soldiers hit them”.

In only six months, the AA has swept through most of Rakhine State, forcing the defense to keep retreating. It joined ethnic rebels in other parts of the country in a combined activity aimed at overthrowing the junta that seized power in February 2021 and ended a peace with the troops next month.

” I saw my father being taken aside in a military aircraft with my own eyes.” I have no idea where my brother is since he was separated from both of us. Now, the woman told the BBC,” I do n’t know if my son and husband are alive or dead.”

The titles of the witnesses are not being used to identify them. They told the BBC that everyone in the town, which has just over 1, 000 families, were kept out in the empty for two weeks, under the sun, with little to eat or drink, while dozens of men were tied, blindfolded and some taken aside in cars for further investigation. Some are yet to profit.

” They were therefore desperate, standing all day in the sun, and begged for water. However, the women told the BBC that the men urinated in water containers and gave them to the men.

She said she heard “lots of gunshots”, but did n’t see who was shot “because we had to keep our heads down”.

” I did n’t dare to look. They called a person who was seated close to me. Next I heard a gun. He always came backwards.’ ‘

She said,” I did n’t know if their were dead or alive,” and she was crying all the way through. I was praying for them,’ Buddha, kindly keep them’.”

Survivors claim they could hear military yell shovels to be used to destroy the bodies. Some, they claim, were obviously crazy.

More than 100 soldiers are believed to have raided the town Byai Phyu, which is just outside the state capital of Sittwe, on Wednesday.

Sittwe, a town with around 200, 000 citizens, a big port and airport, is one of the Burmese army’s some remaining heartlands. However, the insurgents are nearby and have a large cultural Rakhine population who are sympathetic.

Locals said that people who had tattoos supporting the AA were targeted for particularly severe treatment. According to an eyewitness, the soldiers burned the painted body, poured gasoline on top of it, and then set it on fire.

An army official told the people he had come from the battle in northern Shan State, where the army suffered significant losses late last month, to take his revenge on them, according to another witness.

Losing Rakhine State along Bangladesh’s border would be one of the biggest humiliations the armed forces have experienced in years have dominated Myanmar since its independence in 1948.

On Friday those left standing in the marketplace, mostly women, children and the elderly, were ordered to gather a few things and leave. They claimed that the soldiers had already taken valuable items like gold, jewelry, and solar panels from their homes. Initial transportation for the locals to a stadium in Sittwe was limited, but the majority of them have since moved to seek shelter in Buddhist monasteries in the city.

The BBC is aware that Byai Phyu is still under the army’s control and that no one is being permitted to retake it. According to reports, a large portion of the village has been destroyed.

The NUG has pledged to prosecute those responsible for the war crimes committed in Byai Phyu. The AA also accused what it calls” the fascist military council “of” vicious cruelty”, and of gang- raping some of the women in Byai Phyu.

After discovering sandbag bunkers in the village, the junta has refuted all allegations of torture and has stated that they were only carrying out “peace and security” measures. It accuses the Arakan Army of conducting drone strikes from Sittwe’s area.

Any independent investigation of what happened in Byai Phyu will not be possible for the foreseeable future due to the isolation of Rakhine State and the intensity of the conflict.

However, the accounts of the survivors serve as a ominous warning of what might transpire elsewhere in Myanmar as the military struggles to gain ground against an increasingly capable and confident armed opposition movement.