Tortured, beheaded and dismembered
13 May 2023
A series of violent events in Sagaing
WARNING: GRAPHIC - This report contains extremely graphic imagery and links to graphic imagery shared online. While efforts have been made to blur details, the report contains information which some readers may find distressing.
To read the full report, download the PDF.
Key Event Details
Location of Incidents:
Ma Le Thar village (မလဲသာ) (22.115030, 95.455742) in Ayadaw township
Pa Dat Taing village (ပဒတ္တိုင်း) (22.074770, 95.448303) in Myinmu township
Kan Taw village (ကန်တော်) (22.027901,95.569941) in Myinmu township
Tar Taing village (တာတိုင်) (21.933220, 95.644867) in Sagaing township
Let Ka Pin village (လက္ကပင်) (21.87949944, 95.48097992) in Myinmu township
Swea Lwe Oh village (ဆွဲလွဲအို) (21.79330063, 95.3681488) in Myaung township
Than Bo village (သံဘို) (22.72942924, 95.67418671) in Khin-U township
Ta Ga Nan village (တဂဏန်း) (22.53455925, 95.68533325) in Shwebo township
Date/Time of Incident:
Multiple events between 23 February and 2 April 2023
Alleged Perpetrator(s) and/or Involvement:
Light Infantry Division (LID) 99, based in Meikhtila
LID Commander: Major General Than Htike
No. 8 Military Training School, Shwebo township
Summary of Investigation:
Myanmar Witness has investigated allegations related to eight incidents of violence in Sagaing. Six of these incidents involved the beheading of at least one individual.
One mass killing in Tar Taing led to the deaths of 17 individuals, including one beheading.
Myanmar Witness has found that at least 33 people were killed in the 8 incidents investigated, 12 of whom were beheaded.
Myanmar Witness identified, and where possible verified, imagery and video footage associated with these events, including images showing dismembered and beheaded bodies. Myanmar Witness also identified and geolocated footage of a beheading near Myaung.
Many sources claim that the Light Infantry Division (LID) 99, under the command of Major General Than Htike, is responsible for six of the incidents.
Locals report that the beheadings in Than Bo (incident 7) was carried out by the Security Administrative Council (SAC) No. 8 Military Training School from Shwebo township.
Images showing SAC soldiers were identified but not verified in association with events in Let Ka Pin.
The SAC released a statement admitting that SAC soldiers were responsible for a clash in Tar Taing.
Between 23 February and 2 April 2023, a Myanmar military column reportedly traversed through part of the Sagaing region, conducting mass killings, fires, rapes, and raids in several villages. Myanmar Witness has identified, and where possible verified, imagery and video footage associated with a number of these events, which show bodies that were tortured, beheaded and dismembered. Myanmar Witness has found that at least 33 people were killed in the 8 incidents investigated, 12 of whom were beheaded.
This report investigates claims related to the following events:
Airstrike and ground troop incursion: Ma Le Thar
Myanmar military raid: Pa Dat Taing
Beheadings: Kan Taw
Mass killing and beheading: Tar Taing
Detention, mass killing and beheadings: Let Ka Pin
Beheading: Swea Lwe Oh
Beheadings: Than Bo
Beheading, dismembering and rape: Ta Ga Nan
Sagaing has been a focal point of resistance since the Coup. These 8 incidents identified, and where possible verified, by Myanmar Witness, show a pattern of excessive violence by the perpetrators. In a number of these cases the individuals were killed and then beheaded. As the beheadings serve no functional purpose, they represent a dramatic and horrific warning to those resisting military rule.
Figure: Maps showing the location of the incidents
Although Myanmar Witness has been unable to fully verify the perpetrators of these events, or the specific unit responsible, due to a lack of user-generated content (UGC) placing soldiers at the scene, UGC has revealed the aftermath of these events.
Many sources claim that the Light Infantry Division (LID) 99, under the command of Major General Than Htike, is responsible for incidents 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Locals report that the beheadings in Than Bo (incident 7) was carried out by the Security Administrative Council (SAC) No. 8 Military Training School from Shwebo township. Locals reported that the events in Ta Ga Nan (incident 8) was likely carried out by Myanmar military soldiers. However, these claims have not been verified by Myanmar Witness.
Myanmar Witness identified images which purport to show SAC troops in Let Pa Kin (incident 5). Additionally, the SAC released a statement admitting that SAC soldiers were responsible for a clash in Tar Taing. This increases the likelihood that the SAC were responsible for these violent attacks as it places the SAC in the vicinity. However, there is a lack of UGC which prevents Myanmar Witness being able to verify that the SAC is responsible for all of these incidents.
These violent incidents in Sagaing occurred after the SAC declared Martial Law in Shwebo, Wetlet, and Ayadaw townships on 22 February 2023. Pro-SAC media has stated that many of the bodies found were part of the PDF. These media posts claim that SAC troops “cleared the area” of PDF presence due to a “need for peace.”
This report documents a series of violent events, however it is not exhaustive. Additional allegations of beheadings and atrocities have been identified in the Sagaing region. Myanmar Witness will continue to monitor and investigate these claims.
To read the report, download the PDF. However, WARNING: GRAPHIC.