Eleven civilians from Dongtaw village in Sagaing’s Salingyi township were this morning arrested, bound with hands behind their backs, and shot in the head by soldiers from the Burmese military. Those civilians who survived the shooting were allegedly heard wailing whilst being burned alive after troops abandoned them, still bound, in a hut that they had set ablaze.
Around 50 soldiers had raided Dongtaw village and opened fire with artillery shells before making the arrests.
DVB interviewed a mother who lost her son and six other relatives in the fire.
“I feel pain that I can’t express. I only have two sons. Now, I have only one. He was married and had a daughter. He didn’t do anything, just a naive boy although he was over 20 years old. Only once or twice was he a village nightwatchman, he didn’t join a PDF or other armed group,” she said.
“They didn’t have any weapons in their hands. I was never before in a situation where the military suddenly opened fire with mortars. All of my relatives and my son were in caught in the incident.”
Around 50 military columns left from Aung Zeyar ward, Monywa, along the Monywa-Pathein Road this morning. In pursuit, local PDF groups laid landmines, successfully snaring a number of the convoys.
Following the IED attacks, troops entered the village nearest the incident—which fatefully happened to be Dontaw—and committed the atrocities.
Local sources put the number of the victims at nine or ten. A relative of someone killed in the fire said, “These young men were wearing long pants and warm clothes as the weather is cold. Because of this, the soldiers thought these young men were PDF fighters and attacked with heavy artillery and small arms fire. We ran as fast as we could and didn’t dare to look back. As I remembered, they arrested nine villagers and burned them together with the farm hut.”
A Salingyi PDF member said that the attack will not unnerve resistance fighters, despite that being the military’s rationale in performing today’s barbaric crime. PDFs will fight back to avenge the torture of innocents, he said.
“This did not occur as the result of a landmine. Troops today opened fire at ordinary civilians, torturing them during a prolonged raid. There is no excuse for fighting back against innocents. We will accelerate the revolution and defeat them without fear,” he said.
Dongtaw village is located near to the Letpadaung copper mine, a hugely controversial joint venture between Wanbao (a subsidiary of Chinese arms manufacturer Norinco) and military owned UMEHL.
UPDATE: The ages of the victims have been given as 14, 17 (x4), 19, 20, 22 (x2), 30, and 40.