Strafing, burning alive…: Burma’s military reenacts torture tactics

Myanmar, which has been in serious turmoil since the coup, was plunged into a national silence of grief and fear on the 28th after the “National Day of Killing”, which was marked by the Military Day massacre last weekend. Photo / AFP

“The army first set fire to his house, then shot those who came to put out the fire, and finally dragged the wounded to the central square of the town, poured gasoline on them, set them on fire… Then the innocent were burned alive, and his screams and hisses spread throughout the town as a horrific warning to make an example of him.”

Myanmar, which has been in serious turmoil since the coup, was plunged into a national silence of grief and fear on the 28th, after the “National Day of Killing”, which was marked by a massacre last weekend on Military Day, except for the military and police forces, who were so red-handed and aggressive that they continued to expand their operations on all sides – like the day before In Yangon and Mandalay, where blood was spilled the day before, there was not only a massive police-led “residential looting” crime, but also a deliberate shooting raid by the military police on the funerals of those who died in the demonstrations; meanwhile, the ethnic Karen people, who were supporting the anti-coup demonstrations and raiding military bases in the mountains of eastern Myanmar, were subjected to intensive air raids by the Burmese military from 28 onwards. At least 3,000 women and children were forced to flee overnight by the air force, which continued to bombard them.

After the 27th Military Day massacre, the exhausted Burmese nationals were forced to take a rest on the 28th, not only to count the hundreds of missing civilians taken by the army and disappeared, but also to make arrangements for the 114 dead men and women who died under the guns of the crackdown. According to the witness report of Reuters, in Yangon, Mandalay… Even so, at least 23 people were killed by the military and police across Myanmar on Sunday, and the cumulative death toll since the coup quickly reached 459.

In the Yangon metropolitan area, the atmosphere on the 28th was breathtaking. In addition to attacking the funerals of those who died in the demonstrations and “live firing” at civilians who sang their respects to dispel public discontent, the police also began throwing live ammunition at people in the streets. The police also started throwing army-issued “hand grenades” at people in the streets, shooting indiscriminately and even attacking the Asia Royal Hospital in downtown Yangon, with all kinds of instructions that went beyond killing without mercy and even approached the level of “war crimes” madness.

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

In addition to the ongoing crackdown in the metropolitan area, the intensity of clashes between the Burmese military government and the anti-coup ethnic independence forces in the border areas has also increased since Sunday. “The Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which has vowed to resist the military government in northern Burma’s Kachin State, attacked four police bases in Hpakant, a township on the border between Kachin and Kayah States, in the early morning of the 29th, killing 20 police officers, including many high-ranking officers.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Home Affairs said that the area around Pagang Township appears to have been “completely overrun” by the Kachin Army and cut off, so how bad is the situation on the front line? The military government is still confused about the situation. All that is known is that from March 27, the Kachin army’s raids began to intensify, and the Tatmadaw forces, unable to keep track of developments, continued to launch carpet bombardments toward Laiza, the Kachin headquarters on the Sino-Burma border.

At the same Time as the Kachin Army began its raids, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), another ethnic group fighting the coup in Karen State in southeast Myanmar, has been subjected to “retaliatory air strikes” by the Burmese Air Force since the 28th, after capturing a Burmese highland post on the 27th. According to reports by AFP and the Burmese NGO Myanmar Now, Burmese air force bombers have been attacking rural Karen State since the evening of the 27th, but these bombings have not targeted KNLA military positions or units, but have instead targeted ordinary civilian homes and town centers in order to “kill” them. The intention to “kill civilians” as a military retaliation is extremely clear.

Since the Karen Army does not currently have the counterforce to counter the Tatmadaw’s warplanes, the Burmese Air Force’s indiscriminate bombing is clearly aimed at creating death and injury figures and killing civilians as a political priority. As a result, the already fleeing sentiment among the civilian population has intensified into a mass panic that has grown into a refugee flow of thousands since Sunday.

At least 3,000 refugees are known to have fled across the border from Karen State into Thailand. But with the escalation of the Karen Army’s resistance, a new wave of more than 10,000 refugees is expected to reach the Thai-Myanmar border soon within the next few weeks.

Myanmar Air Force bombers have been raiding the Karen State countryside since the evening of the 27th, showing local residents fleeing and hiding.


But while the four-way resistance is on the rise, the “torture-style crackdown” by Myanmar’s military and police is rapidly becoming more violent and out of control – with a new tragedy that has caused international horror and escalating anger across Myanmar taking place in the Aungmyethazan district of Mandalay city ( In Aungmyethazan, a community watchman who was trying to stop the crackdown on military arson in the township was wounded by troops who opened fire and then dragged him to the center of town and threw gasoline on him, burning him alive in front of the townspeople.

The victim of the brutal killing was U Aye Ko, a 40-year-old beverage vendor. According to neighborhood witnesses, at around 9 p.m. on the 27th, junta forces, who had been on a killing spree in Mandalay all day and night, burst into the Aung Mui Dazan district and set fire to the community’s administration center. When the community was in flames, U Aiko, a volunteer member of Watchtower, rushed to the fire to try to put out the fire, which was set by the military and police and was getting out of control.

The military forces on the street opened fire on the unarmed Uayko – who was shot and fell to the ground, bleeding and moaning – but not only did the military and police forces who were slowly moving forward have no intention of saving him, they gleefully dragged the badly wounded Uayko to the center of town, then poured gasoline on him, set him on fire, and made Uayko a loud voice. Uayko became a burning fireball screaming.

“When the fire started, the man who had been shot let out a horrific scream, ‘Help me! Help me! Mom, help!’ …. Until he broke off, that’s how fiercely the figure in that ball of flame twisted and hissed.”

Witnesses said that the crazy way the military and police burned the living people, so that all the townspeople in the fleeing were dumbfounded. Although some of the township’s brave hands and feet to try to save people to put out the fire, but the Burmese soldiers surrounding the “fire man” continued to shoot, threatening to kill all the “dead civilians” who dare to come forward to save others.

U Aiko, who was struggling in the flames, was burned to a pile of charred bones in the darkness of the night – his upper body and skull were burned to a brittle black, and the only thing left intact for the three children to identify was a thigh and foot bone.

The photo shows military police cracking down on protesters in Kachin State on March 27. Photo: AFP/

Photo: AFP

The repressive forces’ heartless killing methods have once again ignited the anger of the Mandalay people. But the massacres of the previous day were so horrific that the “arson attacks”, like those in the Angmedazan district, continued over the weekend. So in addition to the angry siege of police stations in some towns demanding answers, more communities were busy cleaning up the fires and even fleeing with their families.

But the irony is that the “arson killings” by the Burmese military and police in Mandalay and elsewhere are in fact the same scorched earth tactics of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya that have been used in Rakhine State in the past. In the space of a few years, the bloody spear of military brutality has been applied across the board and indiscriminately to “Myanmar’s own people” from the Rohingya, who were formerly known as “foreigners”.

According to past reports and investigations by Reuters and Amnesty International, the Burmese army often set fires in civilian residential areas, using them as traps to force hiding civilians out of their homes and to make it “easy to hit live targets” for the troops set up on the perimeter, thereby accelerating the efficiency and intimidation of the indiscriminate massacres.

In addition, the arson that accompanies the massacre of civilians often causes severe physical and psychological trauma to the local population, and the fear that spreads can reinforce the Burmese army’s forceful intimidation effect, speeding up the effect of ethnic cleansing while also smoothly receiving the property left behind by the fleeing population in their homeland.

In addition to burnings and killings, Burmese journalists and citizens’ groups have also discovered that police-led “looting” operations are taking place in grocery stores, supermarkets, businesses, and even homes in major towns and cities. Many of these daytime crackdowns have been followed by “desertions” of police to loot civilian stores and take away vital necessities – a sign of the complete breakdown of the legitimacy of the Burmese military government on the one hand, and the isolation of the Burmese people in the midst of a national non-cooperation movement and increased international sanctions on the other. On the one hand, this shows the total collapse of the legitimacy of the Burmese military government; on the other hand, it also shows that the dysfunctional Burmese military government is unable to maintain effective economic operations and allocate resources to support itself under the isolation and blockade of the national non-cooperation movement and increased international sanctions.

The total collapse of the legitimacy of the Burmese military government and its inability to maintain effective economic operations and allocate resources for livelihoods under the isolation and blockade of the national non-cooperation movement and increased international sanctions are also evident. The photo shows Burma’s military and police celebrating “Burma’s Military Day” on March 27.