The soldiers from Myanmar’s army knocked on U Thein Aung’s door one morning last April as he was having tea with friends, and demanded that all of them accompany the platoon to another village.
When they reached a dangerous stretch in the mountains of Rakhine State, the men were ordered to walk 100 feet ahead. One stepped on a land mine and was blown to pieces. Metal fragments struck Mr. Thein Aung in his arm and his left eye.
“They threatened to kill us if we refused to go with them,” said Mr. Thein Aung, 65, who lost the eye. “It is very clear that they used us as human land mine detectors.”
The military and its brutal practices are an omnipresent fear in Myanmar, one that has intensified since the generals seized full power in a coup last month. As security forces gun down peaceful protesters on city streets, the violence that is commonplace in the countryside serves as a grisly reminder of the military’s long legacy of atrocities.
an ethnic cleansing campaign that a United Nations panel has described as genocidal. Soldiers have battled rebel ethnic armies with the same ruthlessness, using men and boys as human shields on the battlefield and raping women and girls in their homes.
The generals are now fully back in charge, and the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has turned its guns on the masses, who have mounted a nationwide civil disobedience movement.
The crackdown widened on Monday in the face of a general strike, with security forces seizing control of universities and hospitals and annulling press licenses of five media organizations. At least three protesters were shot dead.
Tatmadaw. It came to power in a 1962 coup, saying that it had to safeguard national unity. For decades, it has fought to control parts of the country, inhabited by ethnic minority groups, that are rich in jade, timber and other natural resources.
During the last three years, the Tatmadaw has waged war intermittently against ethnic rebel armies in three states, Rakhine, Shan and Kachin. The most intense fighting has been in Rakhine, where the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine force, is seeking greater autonomy.
Civilians are often casualties in these long-running conflicts, as 15 victims, family members or witnesses in these three states attested in interviews with The New York Times.