Myanmar military reportedly kills dozens of fleeing civilians in Christmas Eve massacre

Save the Children Myanmar

U.K.-based aid group Save the Children has condemned the recent attack of the Myanmar military on Christmas Eve, which left 38 people dead and two staff members missing. 

What happened: The victims were reportedly fleeing for refugee camps following a clash between armed resistance groups and the Myanmar military near the village of Koi Ngan, a villager told the Associated Press.

  • The victims were allegedly rounded up, shot and their bodies burned by the country’s junta in the nearby village of Mo So in Kayah State.
  • Photos allegedly taken after the military massacre began circulating on social media, but the accounts are unverified, the Associated Press noted. The charred bodies of more than 30 people can be seen in the images. 
  • Clothes belonging to women and children were found on the scene alongside food and medical supplies. The villager who spoke to the Associated Press did not see the live massacre but believed a few of the victims were Mo So villagers who were allegedly arrested on Friday.
  • A report from Myanmar’s independent media claimed that 10 villagers and four members of the local paramilitary Border Guard Forces were shot in the head by the junta.
  • While Myanmar’s government has yet to release a statement regarding the massacre allegations, state-run news outlet Myanma Alinnconfirmed the Friday clash between the junta and ethnic guerrilla forces, including the Karenni National Progressive Party, on Saturday.
  • Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the Myanmar military, told Agence France-Presse that “a number of people” were killed during the clash on Christmas Eve which began after the junta tried to halt seven vehicles moving in a “suspicious way,” BBC reported.
  • Fighting between the junta and the Karen National Liberation Army continued over the weekend, with the government conducting airstrikes and firing heavy artillery on the village of Lay Kay Kaw in Karen State. The attack has displaced more than 10,000 villagers, with thousands of them traveling to the border of Thailand seeking refuge, The Irrawaddy reported.

Condemnation: Save the Children said in a statement that two of its staff members who were “caught up in the incident” are still missing. They also confirmed that “their private vehicle was attacked and burned out.”

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  • The two staff members were reportedly heading back to their office after doing humanitarian work in a nearby area.
  • Save the Children condemns this attack as a breach of International Humanitarian Law,” Chief Executive of Save the Children Inger Ashing said in the statement. “We are horrified at the violence carried out against innocent civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar. Investigations into the nature of the incident are continuing but attacks against aid workers cannot be tolerated.”
  • United Nations  Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths also issued a statement on Sunday condemning the attack.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Burma has released a joint statement condemning the junta for its attack on civilians in the Karen state, calling it “a violation of International Humanitarian Law.”
  • The attacks have resulted in thousands of people being displaced, who are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” the statement reads. “We call on the regime to immediately cease its indiscriminate attacks in Karen State and throughout the country, and to ensure the safety of all civilians in line with international law.”

Other details: Former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to two years in prison in early December 2021 for several charges, including inciting public unrest and corruption, months after the military took over Myanmar.

Featured Image via WestportWiki (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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