Sunday, May 3, 2009

Battalion set fire to 36 homes in Yebyu Township

HURFOM, Yebyu Township (Rehmonnya): - A fifty strong column of soldiers from LIB No. 107, led by Major Khin Mg Chin entered Paukpinkwin village, Yebyu Township on April 17th and set fire to 36 homes. Villagers believe this act was in retaliation for perceived insurgent group support and follows the recent killings of four village officials on April 2nd and 3rd, victims of a power struggle between the battalion and the armed Mon rebel group, Chan Dein.

A young man from Paukpinkwin who witnessed the events said, “ The soldiers separated into two groups of 25. One group entered the village from the north and the other from the south. Then they started to burn the 36 houses near the Ball Ta Moi Monastery. After that they fired their guns and ordered the people inside to get out their houses. People took anything they could and ran way.”

A local monk commented, “ I think this has happened because of the murders on April 2nd and 3rd and the ongoing power struggle between the army and Chan Dein group. Major Khin Mg Chin ordered the villagers to inform the army if the rebel group were in the village. The burnings are a punishment because they know that there is communication between the villagers and the rebels.”

“The battalion knew that Chan Dein and his members entered our village for the water festival. So they punished people by burning the houses,” said a Paukpinkwin villager.

Of the 36 houses that were burnt, 17 were almost destroyed and the remaining 19 houses were badly damaged. The residents who were left homeless had to live in the Monastery for two days before moving elsewhere.

“ Now, the situation is very bad. All the villagers are terrified and they are afraid to do anything”, said the monk. “ The village quarter which was burnt by the army is near the monastery, so the monks no longer receive food from the people there. Now we have to cook for ourselves.”

On the 2nd and 3rd of April, the headman of the Paukpinkwin Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) and 3 other members of the council were executed in separate incidents by Battalion No. 107 and the Chan Dein group. All four officials are yet to be replaced and many villagers have left to move to safer locations.

May 2, 2009

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