Myanmar villagers army say troops burned 400 houses

Feb 2, 2022, 6:30 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2022, 8:55 am
Charred homes sit in piles of ash in Mwe Tone village of Pale township in the Sagaing region, Myanm...

Charred homes sit in piles of ash in Mwe Tone village of Pale township in the Sagaing region, Myanmar, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. Mwe Tone was one of two villages residents and Myanmar news outlets said were burned down Monday, Jan. 31, 0222, by soldiers they believe were looking for members of an armed militia opposed to the military government that seized power in February last year. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

BANGKOK (AP) — Residents of two villages in northwestern Myanmar said government soldiers burned down hundreds of houses this week, apparently while searching for members of an armed militia opposed to military rule.

The attack on Monday in northwestern Sagaing region, also reported by independent Myanmar media, came on the eve of the anniversary of the Feb. 1 army takeover that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, and underlined the fierce struggle for power.

The takeover triggered mass nonviolent protests nationwide, but when the military and police responded with deadly force, armed resistance arose in the cities and the countryside. Armed struggle has been especially active in the northwest, including Sagaing region and Chin state, despite the military’s overwhelming superiority.

Residents of Mwe Tone village said on Thursday that 200 of 250 homes there were razed by fire, together with nearly 200 of the 800 houses in nearby Pan village. Similar numbers were reported by Myanmar media.

“As a farmer, I saved money for 15 years to build a house, and all that was left of my house was ashes. Not only my house but the whole village was turned into ash,” said a 29-year-old Mwe Tone villager, speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal from authorities. “Now, we have nothing to eat or live with.”

Photos showed water pumps, tractors and vehicles destroyed by the blaze, with farm animals also falling victims.

Myanmar’s army has a reputation for using arson as one of its tactics in counterinsurgency operations. Troops are believed to have burned down as many as 200 villages in a brutal 2017 campaign in western Rakhine state that drove more than 700,000 Muslim Rohingya villagers to seek safety across the border in Bangladesh.

The army has been accused of crimes against humanity and genocide for its actions against the Rohingya, which also included the killings and rapes of civilians. In their current campaign against opponents of military rule, they have again been accused of razing homes and carrying out massacres of civilians.

The government’s tactics have also caused a huge humanitarian crisis, with upwards of 300,000 people nationwide displaced from their homes, and the conflict often preventing assistance from reaching them.

Both armed and nonviolent resistance to last year’s army takeover has prevented the military from consolidating its rule, with some experts saying the country has slipped into a civil war. The resistance generally employs hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, to which the army often responds with brute force.

A villager from Pan, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation, said he believed the troops had been searching for members of a local militia that had been established to protect against government attacks.

He said, however, that there had been no clashes in the immediate area that might have triggered Monday’s military action. In previous similar incidents elsewhere, government soldiers acted in apparent retaliation for attacks by resistance forces.

A Mwe Tone resident said that she and seven neighbors who were unable to flee before the soldiers took over were captured, with several beaten and abused.

The 45-year-old woman told The Associated Press by phone that the soldiers told them that Mwe Tone is known for supporting members of the People’s Defense Force — armed resistance groups also known by their acronym — and the village would be torched that night.

She quoted a soldier as saying, “We will torch the village as PDF members are living here and receiving support. You’ll have to rebuild your house with reinforced concrete, so your house never again is easily burned by fire.” She said the soldiers reeked of alcohol.

Two of the Mwe Tone residents said the troops also engaged in looting, including stealing a 200-year-old, 6-inch (15-centimeter) -tall gold Buddha image with an embedded ruby from the village monastery.

The government has not issued any reports about the incident.

However, the state-run Myanma Alinn Daily newspaper claimed that 200 houses of Ma Htee village, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) west of Mwe Tone and Pan villages, were burned by members of a resistance defense force during fighting with army troops on Sunday. Satellite images from the company Planet Labs showed about a third of the village had been damaged sometime around that time.

The Mwe Tone villagers said helicopters came to pick up the soldiers early on Tuesday morning but residents of both villages were still fearful about their returning. An estimated 10,000 people from several villages in the area remained in hiding in the jungle, they said.

“I want to say to international governments that if you are still standing and looking without taking any action against the military, Myanmar will soon be reduced to ashes,” said the villager from Pan. “The people have nowhere to run and the army is killing everyone.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - This undated photo provided by The Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John Henry Ram...
Associated Press

Texas inmate who fought prayer, touch rules to be executed

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas death row inmate whose case clarified the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide is scheduled for execution Wednesday, despite efforts by a district attorney to stop his lethal injection. John Henry Ramirez, 38, was sentenced to death for killing 46-year-old Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk, in 2004. […]
22 hours ago
A customer looks at refrigerated items at a Grocery Outlet store in Pleasanton, Calif.,. on Thursda...
Associated Press

‘Best Before’ labels scrutinized as food waste concerns grow

As awareness grows around the world about the problem of food waste, one culprit in particular is drawing scrutiny: “best before” labels. Manufacturers have used the labels for decades to estimate peak freshness. Unlike “use by” labels, which are found on perishable foods like meat and dairy, “best before” labels have nothing to do with […]
22 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden attends an event to support legislation that would encourage domestic ma...
Associated Press

Can Biden save democracy one US factory job at a time?

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is working to create a manufacturing revival — even helping to put factory jobs in Republican territory under the belief it can restore faith in U.S. democracy. The latest development came Tuesday, when chipmaker Micron announced an investment of up to $100 billion over the next 20-plus years to […]
22 hours ago
FILE - People stand on the destroyed bridge to Pine Island as they view the damage in the aftermath...
Associated Press

Biden to focus on hurricane victims in Florida, not politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will visit hurricane-ravaged Florida with a pledge that federal, state and local governments will work as one to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives — putting politics on mute for now to focus on those in need. Hurricane Ian has resulted in at least 84 people confirmed dead, including […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Ky., arrives to speak to reporters Sept. 7, 2022,...
Associated Press

GOP optimistic about Senate chances despite Walker turmoil

NEW YORK (AP) — Leading Republicans are entering the final month of the midterm campaign increasingly optimistic that a Senate majority is within reach even as a dramatic family fight in Georgia clouds one of the party’s biggest pickup opportunities. And as some Democrats crow on social media about apparent Republican setbacks, party strategists privately […]
22 hours ago
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, center, arrives at the Australian Capital Territory Suprem...
Associated Press

Complainant testifies about Australian Parliament House rape

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A government staffer testified Wednesday about being raped by a colleague in the Australian Parliament House and described her fears of not being believed because of the disparity in their workplace statuses. Brittany Higgins became the first witness to testify against Bruce Lehrmann, 27, who has pleaded not guilty in the […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Myanmar villagers army say troops burned 400 houses