An interview with a village defense official from Tabayin Township regarding the situation following the military junta’s raids
The “Ogre Column” of the Myanmar Army’s Infantry Battalion 11 and Light Infantry Battalion 708 raided villages in Khin-U Township and eastern Tabayin Township in Shwebo District, Sagaing Region. During the raids, the military junta columns arrested and killed local residents, including a pregnant woman.
Also on 18 January, junta forces raided Me Oe village in Tabayin Township, brutally killing four residents, including a woman, and arresting more than ten others.
Shanni Voice interviewed a village defense official from Tabayin Township, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, about the situation after the military junta’s raids.
Q: What is the situation in Tabayin after the military junta’s raids?
A: The IB-11 and the LIB-708 of the military council entered the area without any ground fighting on the morning of 18 January. We estimate their strength at about 80 soldiers. The locals could not escape in time and were arrested and killed.
Q: Do you know the details of those arrested and killed?
A: Yes, we do. Fifteen residents of Me Oe village in eastern Tabayin were arrested. Four of them were killed – one woman and three men. The woman’s name is Ma Khin Hnin Htay, 37 years old. She was a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD). She was also the campaign representative of Daw Hnin Khaing Soe, the regional MP for Tabayin Township Constituency No. 1. She was also the person responsible for legal affairs at Tabayin Township Administration Body.
The other three men killed were U Maung Tun, U Zaw Win and U Aung Myint Kyaw, also known as Ko Kalar, all aged between 40 and 50. We believe that Ma Khin Hnin Htay was tortured in a house before she was burnt to death because there were blood spatters, possibly from being dragged along. The other three men’s necks were slit, with their limbs severed. They were not killed in Me Oe village but were taken to Let Yet Kone village and killed there.
Q: Have those arrested been released?
A: No, they haven’t been released until the morning of 19 January. They (the junta soldiers) took them to Ye-U and forced them to carry their supplies. Eyewitnesses said they saw them carrying RPGs and other things. We also got the names of those arrested.
Q: Do you know which villages the junta column is raiding at the moment?
A: They are now raiding the villages in Ye-U Township after raiding Let Ye Kone village. They are raiding Se Gyi and Zein Zun villages. We have also heard that they have made more arrests along the route. But, we can only confirm the 15 people arrested from Me Oe village. We’re not sure how many more have been arrested.
Q: Please tell us about the situation of the locals after the military junta’s raids.
A: The locals had to flee. They have no other choice because military council soldiers arrest anyone they see. More than 5,000 residents of Nyaung Gyi Kone, Me Oe, Let Yet Kone, Nyaung Hla, Aung Chan Thar, Mu Kha Twin, Tha Yet Taw and Ywar Shey villages in eastern Tabayin Township have fled. Villages in southern Ye-U Township have also fled. The army has also deployed ambush patrols in the area. The column began raiding and burning villages in western Khin-U Township on 3 January, and shot dead a pregnant woman and four other civilians on 12 January. They also slit the throat of a 67-year-old man named U Myint Shwe. From Khin-U, the column is now marching towards Tabayin and Ye-U Townships. It is the Ogre Column. This is the column which has been terrorizing villages across Shwebo District.
Q: Have there been any armed clashes between the local defense forces and the military council column?
A: There have been no clashes so far. But recently they clashed with the defense forces when they were moving from one village to another. Then the column moved on from one village to the next. But now they are raiding the villages without fighting on the ground. We are monitoring the situation. They have also taken local civilians hostage, so we can’t clear the area yet.
Q: What else would you like to add?
A: It is the so-called “Ogre Column”, which is notorious for killing people in brutal ways. They have killed women and pregnant women along their marching routes. So, I would like to urge people to get to safety from this military column as soon as possible.
Sent by Shanni Voice.