Depayin Parents Unable to Locate Missing Children

Depayin Parents Unable to Locate Missing Children

“Please kill me mom,” Maung Bhone Tayza, age seven, told his mother. He did not want to suffer from his wounds any longer, Tayza’s mother told Myanmar Now. Six students were reported killed in an attack on a school, located inside of a monastery at Yet Kon village, Depayin Township, Sagaing Region, on Sept. 16. Twenty injured children were taken away by the Burma Army, according to parents.

Books, backpacks and other belongings, covered in blood, were scattered across the monastery compound. Witnesses state that the Burma Army attacked the area after allegedly receiving reports that members of a local People’s Defense Force (PDF) were hiding inside. But locals stated only children were there at that time of the attack.

“I think this is inhumane. They took my wounded child away. He was not even 15-years-old. Their aircraft fired for about an hour during study time. We have no choice but to deal with what they did as we are under their control. I haven’t slept and eaten well since that day. I tried to stop them when they started shooting at the school but they didn’t stop,” a father said.

“Some kids lost their eyes and others were even missing limbs. I think at least 15 children were taken away. I found out my son was among those [taken] as soon as they left. They abandoned the bodies. The body of a dead kid was picked up by a soldier and put inside a basket. Children were crying but they told them to stop crying. We were only able to cry and look on as we were unable to stop them,” he added. 

The Burma Army’s Myawaddy news outlet announced that junta forces received intel on Sept. 17 that supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party and PDF members were hiding inside the school. It stated that the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the PDF were planning to transport weapons and ammunition from Let Yat Kone village. It added that its troops killed seven PDF fighters and seized ammunition.

“We have found ten bodies so far. One of our teammates is still missing. The dead bodies are mostly male but one of them is female. Five aircraft took part in the attack on that day and attack helicopters simultaneously fired at the school,” a PDF member said.  

The National Unity Government (NUG) issued an announcement on Sept. 18 calling for the immediate release of all children and teachers taken by the Burma Army. UNICEF Myanmar expressed its condolences to the parents and families of the children killed, but it did not assign blame. Save the Children called for “International Humanitarian Law to be upheld.” It reiterated that neither schools, nor children, must be targeted.