Witness Says 100 Killed at Depayin
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Witness Says 100 Killed at Depayin

By Irrawaddy Monday, September 8, 2003

As many as 100 people were killed and an unknown number of women raped in the ambush on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters on May 30, a pro-government activist hired to take part in the attack told Radio Free Asia (RFA). According to the man’s description, the operation on May 30 was well-planned and carefully orchestrated to conceal the number of fatalities. Medical officers, police, military intelligence officers and firefighters told villagers to sign affidavits saying that only four people had been killed, RFA reported. The man who recorded his testimony for RFA said he agreed to take part in the government operation for fear of being denounced as an opposition supporter. RFA reported that while the number of dead cannot be independently verified, opposition supporters who witnessed the worst of the attacks under floodlights near the Ywarthit Bridge in Depayin say more than 100 people were beaten to death by government gangs. Men were hired to dig holes and bury the bodies in a dozen burial sites at an abandoned irrigation department compound. The witness told how men and women were detained separately on the night of May 30 in storage halls at the compound. "Many women were raped by authorities in the hall. The doors were closed, and nobody was able to escape," he said, based on information he learnt from a friend. Women were heard crying for help, he added. Other witnesses agree that government officials arrived in the area days before the attack on May 30, commandeering a local school and more than 50 trucks and vans from the local population. Members of the military’s political arm, the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) were ordered to gather at a high school in Depayin before May 27, and were provided with training and free food. Officials commissioned local carpenters to make bamboo and iron spikes to use in the attack. Two vehicles were instructed to collide with Suu Kyi’s car, but her driver managed to escape the ambush, RFA reported. The regime has kept Burma’s pro-democracy leader in "protective custody" since the May 30 ambush, drawing widespread international condemnation. The Burmese government has repeatedly characterized the attacks as a brawl between NLD and anti-opposition supporters, with police trying to stop the conflict.

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