Military kills civilian in poor health at Sagaing Region checkpoint

Junta soldiers fatally shot a man at a checkpoint in Shwebo, central Sagaing Region on Monday as he was returning from a trip to Mandalay for medical treatment, local sources said. 

The victim was Paw Tun, 60, a resident of the village of Pin Hla in Kawlin Township. He was suffering from lung disease and had gone to Mandalay to receive care. 

The soldiers started firing their weapons at a motorcyclist who was trying to flee the checkpoint on the south side of Shwebo, and a stray round hit the parked car in which Paw Tun was sitting in a passenger seat. 

“He died on the spot.  A bullet hit him in the head, on the right side. Soldiers had failed to stop the motorcycle at the previous two checkpoints, so they fired when it reached the third one, but the bullet ended up hitting the car instead,” said a local man who had helped move the victim’s body. 

The car’s driver was also injured by broken glass. 

All travellers passing through military checkpoints are required to get out of their vehicles one by one and present their National Registration Cards to soldiers for examination. However, Paw Tun had remained in the car due to his ill health.

Paw Tun’s body was taken to the mortuary in Shwebo by junta troops. The next day, a woman who had been with the victim went back to Kawlin Township with his body.

According to a spokesperson for the Shwebo Township People’s Defense Team (PDT), the fleeing motorcyclist escaped without injury. 

The military will not admit any fault for shooting in an area with crowds of civilians nearby, the PDT spokesperson said. 

“The terrorist military council’s action is totally unacceptable. They will not take any responsibility. They shot and killed him for no reason  on a main street where innocent civilians were traveling in and out of town,” he said. 

After seizing power in the 2021 coup, the military set up checkpoints on highways and roads throughout Myanmar. Motorcyclists are not allowed to ride through these checkpoints, but are instead required to dismount and push the vehicles through before proceeding.

According to a rule enforced by the military council in Sagaing Region, men are not permitted to ride on a motorcycle two at a time, although a woman may ride on a motorcycle while a man is driving. However, in this instance there was reportedly only one rider on the motorcycle, and he was therefore not in violation of the rule.

The day after Paw Tun was killed, the bodies of two local people were found in the village of Bone Bweit just five miles south of Shwebo on the Shwebo-Mandalay road, shortly after a military column left the area. 

In its military campaigns against Myanmar’s armed resistance after the 2021 coup, the regime has frequently targeted civilians. As of August 2023, a total of 4,043 people had been killed in Myanmar since the coup, according to data collected by the human rights monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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