series of mass killings
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According to investigations, the Myanmar military carried out a series of mass killings of civilians in July, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 men.

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According to eyewitnesses and survivors, soldiers as young as 17 rounded up villagers before separating and killing the men.

According to video footage and images from the incidents, the majority of those killed were tortured before being buried in shallow graves.

The killings occurred in four separate incidents in Kani Township, an opposition stronghold in  Sagaing District, Central Myanmar, in July.

The killings are thought to be retaliation for attacks by militia groups demanding a return to democracy following a military coup in February.

The military government’s spokesman did not deny the allegations.

Since seizing control of the country, also known as Burma, and deposing a democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the military has faced opposition from civilians

The most heinous killing occurred in Yin village, where at least 14 men were tortured and beaten to death before their bodies were thrown into a forested gully.

The men were tied up with ropes and beaten before being killed, according to witnesses in Yin, whose names have been withheld to protect their identities.

“We couldn’t stand it, so we kept our heads down, crying,” one woman said, referring to the deaths of her brother, nephew, and brother-in-law.

“We pleaded with them not to do it.  They didn’t give a damn.

‘Are your husbands among them?’ they inquired of the women.

If they are, perform your last rites.'”

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According to a man who managed to flee the killings, soldiers subjected the men to horrifying abuse for hours before they died.

“They were tied up, beaten with stones and rifle butts, and tortured all day,” said one survivor.

“Some soldiers appeared to be young, perhaps 17 or 18, but others appeared to be quite old.

They were accompanied by a woman.”

In late July, 12 mutilated bodies were discovered in shallow mass graves in nearby Zee Bin Dwin village, including a small body, possibly a child, and the body of a disabled person.

Some had been mutilated.

A man in his sixties was discovered dead, tied to a plum tree nearby.

His family claimed that when the military arrived in the village, his son and grandchild fled, but he remained, believing that his age would protect him.

The killings appeared to be collective punishment for attacks on the military by local civilian militia groups demanding the restoration of democracy.

Fighting between the military and local branches of the People’s Defence Force – a collective name for civilian militia groups – had escalated in the months leading up to the mass killings, with clashes near Zee Bin Dwin.

The visual evidence and testimony gathered by the BBC indicate that men were specifically targeted, consistent with a pattern observed across Myanmar in recent months of male villaages facing collective punishment for clashes between the People’s Defense Forces and the military.

The families of those killed insisted that their loved ones were not involved in any military attacks.

A woman who lost her brother in the Yin village massacre told the soldiers that her brother “couldn’t even handle a catapult.”

According to her, a soldier responded, “Nothing should be said. We’re exhausted.  We will murder you.”

Since the coup, foreign journalists have been barred from reporting in Myanmar, and most non-state media outlets have been closed, making on-the-ground reporting nearly impossible.

Myanmar’s Deputy Minister of Information and military spokesperson, General Zaw Min Tun did not deny that soldiers were responsible for the mass killings.

The United Nations is currently investigating allegations of human rights violations committed by Myanmar’s military.

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