In Magway on Tuesday, ten female civilians and 20 refugees who had been sheltering in Myaing township’s Ma Gyi Su village monastery were abducted by the Burmese military and used human shields during clashes with Myaing PDF, an information officer for the resistance group has claimed.
On the same day, a further 30 people from Myaing’s Let Yet Ma village were also said to have been taken hostage and held at a monastery where troops were stationed to dissuade PDF groups from attacking soldiers.
“The junta’s army are constantly raiding villages in this area. [Yesterday], they took about 30 villagers hostage from Lat Yet Ma villages. We heard that they will continue raiding other villages tomorrow.”
Over the past week, the issue of the Burmese military’s use of human shields in conflict — a flagrant violation of international law — has once again come firmly to the fore. Between Jan. 6-7, troops abducted 11 civilians in Matupi, Chin State, murdering the group — which included a journalist and a 13-year-old boy — after using them to safely transport a convoy along a road in territory patrolled by Chinland Defense Force fighters.
In Sagaing’s Wetlet township on Sunday, troops were alleged to have detained over 100 civilians, merging them amongst soldiers and forcing them to walk ahead of troops in case of landmines, causing the local PDF force to abort plans of attacking the military with concealed IEDs.
All 100 civilians are reported to have later been released. The same is currently not true of those taken in Myaing, where an estimated 200 soldiers still hold fort behind a human shield at Lat Ye Ma monastery.
Myaing PDF’s information officer reported that the military launched a massive four-front offensive against the villages of Myaing township on Jan. 11, and were continuing the attack into Wednesday. When fighting broke out in the villages, Myaing PDF says its ranks were bolstered by fighters from neighboring Pauk PDF.
“We returned fire with heavy artillery, killing four soldiers and injuring many others during the battle,” he said.
The Burmese army is said to have destroyed a number of homes across local villages and flew four drones over the region, instigating further panic. 4,000 residents are reported to have fled since Tuesday.
Despite the conflict, locals from some villages in Myaing today partook in anti-military protests, holding posters urging the international community to implement a no-fly zone over Sagaing.