Myanmar soldiers execute nine IDPs sheltering at Sagaing meditation centre

Local residents said the victims—eight men and one woman—had all been lined up and shot in the head

Residents of Oak Pho, a village in Sagaing Region’s Budalin Township, say that regime forces executed nine people sheltering at a local Buddhist meditation centre on Monday.

The victims, some of whom were elderly, had been displaced by recent fighting in the area. All nine had been shot in the head, local sources told Myanmar Now.

“Their brains were blown out. The bullets went straight into their heads,” said one man who did not want to be identified.

“The bodies were all in a row in one area of the meditation centre. They had been forced to sit in a line, and then they were executed. There weren’t any other injuries on them,” he added.

Local residents identified the victims as Khin Saung, 82; Win Maung, 65; Bo Tin, 67; Soe, 47; Kyaw Myo Tun, 46; Pho Sait, 47; Baydar, 45; Ni, 45; and Moe Moe, 30.

According to one source, Moe Moe’s five-year-old daughter survived the attack because some other internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the centre took her with them when they fled as the military arrived.

The bodies were discovered at around 8am on Tuesday, according to a man who was present at the time.

The soldiers who massacred the IDPs were reportedly from Light Infantry Division 77, a unit based in Bago that has been accused of committing serious human rights abuses in the past.

A member of a local defence force told Myanmar Now that the soldiers were part of a column of around 150 troops that had left Monywa on Sunday morning. After reaching Budalin, around half proceeded north of the town the next day. About 5km from the town, this group was attacked with explosives.

Enraged, the soldiers raided Oak Pho, where several civilians were killed on the spot. Some villagers who fled to the nearby meditation centre were followed, forcing the IDPs sheltering there to run for their lives.

“There were around 40 people staying at the meditation centre. The younger ones, including most of the women, were able to get away. But a few older ones who had trouble running didn’t make it,” said an Oak Pho villager.

Residents of the village say that the soldiers also ransacked at least a dozen houses and destroyed several vehicles.

After spending the night at the village monastery, the troops left the following morning for the police station in Seng Pyin, a village in Depayin Township, according to local defence forces.

Most of the inhabitants of Oak Pho, a village of around 450 households, are currently in hiding in neighbouring villages, local sources said.

Myanmar Now News