Last week, three children were beaten to death and another child severely injured in Rangoon Division by a man purporting to be an exorcist who convinced the children’s families, and perhaps even an entire village, that the infants were possessed by evil spirits.
The would-be exorcist, named as Tun Naing, has now been arrested and is likely to face charges of murder.
The victims were a boy aged four, an 18-month-old girl, and a baby just eight months old. A four-year-old girl who survived is now being treated at Rangoon General Hospital’s Neurological Department for severe head injuries.
In the wake of this most macabre case, DVB interviewed Ko Peter of local charity group Tontay Seitta Thukha Association, based in the town of Tontay [Twante], near the village of Maihnasegon where the ritual slayings took place.
Question: What can you tell us about what happened in Maihnasegon village last week?
Answer: It started with the uncle of the family bringing an exorcist to their village home. The healer claimed the house was manifested with evil spirits but promised he would help them. He claimed he could smell something foul. That really scared the family, which is a group of siblings who worked at a nearby fishpond. They live together in a cluster of small huts a distance away from their nearest neighbours.
Anyway, they believed what the guy said. He tied up the children and began to beat them. He apparently hit them with the blunt-end of an axe, killing the boy first. He then asked the father and uncles of the kid to go drop his body in the river, which they did. Then he continued to beat the others, killing the two girls. This time he told the men to bury the bodies in the backyard. Some relatives in the village came to intervene as he proceeded to beat the last child. Then other villagers got involved and they apprehended the man and took him to the police.
Q: Has the suspect been identified?
A: The exorcist’s name is Tun Naing and he is apparently from Maubin. The incident took place at the house of Ko Soe Min.
Q: Is Ko Soe Min related to the children?
A: One of the victims was his child. The others were his nieces or nephews.
Q: What is the condition of the four-year-old girl who is now at Rangoon General Hospital?
A: Her face is swollen and she can’t open her eyes. But apparently the x-ray showed no internal damage.
Q: And the four-year-old boy who died – what did his parents have to say?
A: They looked indifferent about what happened. As if they were brainwashed.
Q: How are you assisting with the case?
A: We initially reported the incident to the police and we accompanied local forensic and law enforcement officials recovering the bodies, which were wrapped in bags.
Q: How did the parents fall for what the man said?
A: The guy apparently told them that the ghosts living in the house were growing more and more powerful, and growing long fangs, and such.
Q: Thank you Ko Peter. Anything you would like to add?
A: It is sad to see something like this happen. I think this highlights that the government still has a long way to go in promoting education among the rural public.