Burned out vehicles were found on Christmas eve with numerous bodies inside. Photo: Karenni Nationalities Defense Force/AP
International non-profit Save the Children has confirmed that two of their staff were among those killed in the latest massacre perpetrated by Myanmar’s military junta. At least 35 people were brutally killed on Christmas Eve. The UK-based group said government troops “forced people from their cars, arrested some, killed many and burnt the bodies,” adding that women and children were among the dead following Friday’s attack in eastern Myanmar’s Kayah State.
“The two staff were both new fathers who were passionate about educating children,” the group said in Tuesday’s statement, not naming the men for security reasons. “One was 32, with a 10-month-old son, and had worked at Save the Children for two years, training teachers. The other, 28, with a three-month-old daughter, joined the charity six years ago.”
Images emerged on social media over the weekend showing corpses in three burned-out trucks in Hpruso township, with one witness telling the AFP news agency that they had found “27 bodies” in the vehicles. The military has offered only limited details surrounding the incident, but has claimed that they attempted to stop a convoy of vehicles driving in a “suspicious way”, but were attacked by men they said were part of a militia group. The area has seen fighting between the junta and pro-democracy forces. The Myanmar Witness monitoring group has confirmed 35 deaths, though Save the Children said at least 38 were killed in their initial statement condemning the attack.The act was labelled “barbaric” by the US Embassy in Myanmar on Sunday, while U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths tweeted that he was “horrified” by the “credible reports.”
Save the Children called on the UN Security Council to convene and immediately hold the military accountable for the massacre, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday encouraged an arms embargo to “prevent the recurrence of atrocities.” More than 1,300 deaths have occurred in Myanmar since Feb. 1, when Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of Myanmar’s civilian government were rounded up in early morning raids as the country’s junta seized power in a coup d’etat. Subsequent widespread anti-coup protests have been met with a bloody crackdown by security forces, with several reported massacres perpetrated by government soldiers. Earlier this month 11 unarmed men, a disabled man and several teenagers among them, were shot and burned by military troops in the country’s Sagaing Region. Follow Alastair McCready on Twitter.