In much of the world, Christmas is no different than any other time of the year. And in Myanmar, that means the military’s crackdown on the civilians who oppose their rule continues unabated.
In eastern Mo So village, just outside Hpruso township in Kayah state, thousands of civilians are taking refuge from an army offensive. According to eyewitnesses, one group was headed to refugee camps on the western edge of the township when they were arrested.
The official government newspaper claims there was heavy fighting in the area between the army and ethnic guerrilla forces, known as the Karenni National Progressive Party.
Whether the military was trying to make an intimidating statement or some other obscure reason will probably never be known. What is not in dispute is that at least 30 villagers — including dozens of women and children — were slaughtered and their bodies set on fire.
The witness who spoke to the AP said the remains were burned beyond recognition, and children’s and women’s clothes were found together with medical supplies and food.
“The bodies were tied with ropes before being set on fire,” said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety.
He did not see the moment they were killed, but said he believed some of them were Mo So villagers who reportedly got arrested by troops on Friday. He denied that those captured were members of locally organized militia groups.
Myanmar’s independent media reported on Friday that 10 Mo So villagers including children were arrested by the army and four members of the local paramilitary Border Guard Forces who went to negotiate for their release were reportedly tied up and shot in the head by the military.
The violent photos circulated online show the remains of bodies on burnt-out truckbeds near Mo So village of Hpruso town in eastern Myanmar. https://t.co/fwzqck79RA
— Asya-Pasifik Araştırmaları🇹🇷 (@Asyabulten) December 25, 2021
Myanmar’s political crisis, caused by the military coup against the democratically elected government, has now become a full-blown civil war pitting several ethnic groups against each other — some aligned with the rebels and some with the junta.
The military — which had a pretty good case for election fraud and corruption — nevertheless applied a heavy hand when a lighter touch might have kept a lid on the situation. Instead, their overreaction has precipitated a bloodbath, as the Christmas Eve massacre will be repeated by both sides.