Save the Children confirms two staff members died in Myanmar massacre

Save the Children confirms two of its charity workers – both new fathers – are among 35 people killed in Christmas Eve Myanmar massacre

  • Troops rounded up villagers in Kayah state on Christmas Eve and murdered them
  • Two Save the Children workers were missing but have now been confirmed dead
  • The troops responsible are believed to be soldiers of Myanmar’s military rulers
  • Workers murdered were both new fathers according to the charity’s statement
  • Myanmar has been in chaos since a February military coup, with more than 1,300 people killed in a crackdown by security forces, according to monitoring groups 

Save the Children today confirmed the deaths of two of its staff reported missing after the charred remains of at least 35 people were found in eastern Myanmar on Saturday.

The Christmas Eve massacre saw dozens of villagers rounded up and shot, with their bodies being burnt en-masse by what are believed to be soldiers of Myanmar’s military rulers.

The two charity workers, both of whom are new fathers, were previously reported missing, but a statement from Save the Children has since expressed ‘profound sadness’ at their deaths. 

Gwen Hines, Chief Executive of Save the Children UK, said: ‘This news is absolutely horrifying. Violence against innocent civilians including aid workers is intolerable, and this senseless attack is a breach of International Humanitarian Law.’

‘We are shaken by the violence carried out against civilians and our staff, who are dedicated humanitarians, supporting millions of children in need across Myanmar.’

News of the massacre in the Mo So village in Kayah state spread on social media in the country, fuelling outrage against the military that took power in a February coup. 

Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, with more than 1,300 people killed in a crackdown by security forces, according to a local monitoring group.

Pictured: Smokes and flames billow from vehicles in Hpruso township, Kayah state, Myanmar, December 24, 2021, in this picture released by the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

Pictured: Burnt vehicles in Hpruso township in Myanmar’s Kayah state where it is believed at least 30 people – including women and children – were shot and killed on Friday by Government troops. Two workers from the Save the Children have since been confirmed dead

Mo So village, where the massacre took place, is just outside Hpruso township in Kayah state where refugees were sheltering from an army offensive

Myanmar government troops rounded up villagers, some believed to be women and children, fatally shot more than 30 and set the bodies on fire, a witness and other reports said Saturday

Save the Children said the two murdered workers were new fathers with long history of charity work.

‘The two staff were both new fathers – 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. They are not being identified for security reasons,’ the charity said.

Hines said the investigation into the massacre is continuing and that Save the Children has reached out to the victims’ families to offer support.

‘The people of Myanmar continue to be targeted with increasing violence and these events demand an immediate response,’ Hines declared.

A senior UN official called on Myanmar authorities to investigate the killings saying he was ‘horrified’ at the violence.

The ruling military has not yet commented on the killings, and several calls since Saturday to junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun have gone unanswered.

State media reported on Sunday that soldiers had fired on and killed an unspecified number of ‘terrorists with weapons’ in the village, and did not mention anything about civilians.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said there were ‘credible reports’ the civilians, including at least one child, were forced from vehicles, killed and burned.

‘I am horrified by reports of an attack against civilians… I condemn this grievous incident and all attacks against civilians throughout the country, which are prohibited under international humanitarian law,’ he said in a statement.

People fleeing due to fighting in Myanmar line up to receive food at a temporary lodging for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Karen state, along the Thai-Myanmar border, on December 25, 2021

People fleeing due to fighting in Myanmar ride in a boat across a river in Karen state, along the Thai-Myanmar border, on December 25, 2021

Griffiths called for ‘a thorough and transparent’ investigation so the perpetrators could be brought to justice.

The US Embassy said in a post on Twitter it was ‘appalled by this barbaric attack’.

‘We will continue to press for accountability for the perpetrators of the ongoing campaign of violence against the people of Burma,’ it said, using another name for the country.

Hines meanwhile called on the UN Security Council to take swift measures to reduce the violence in the country. 

‘The UN Security Council must convene as soon as possible to set out the steps they will take to hold those responsible to account. Member states should impose an arms embargo, including a focus on limiting the airstrikes seen over recent days.’

‘The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) must also convene an urgent meeting to review and action the ‘Five Point Consensus’ agreed in April which calls for an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar.’

‘These steps are urgently required to protect children and humanitarian aid workers.’

At least 1,375 people in Myanmar have been killed and more than 8,000 jailed in crackdowns on protests and armed opposition since the coup, according to a tally of the Association for Assistance of Political Prisoners.

The military government disputes those numbers and says soldiers have also been killed in clashes. 

In October Save the Children said its office in the western town of Thantlang was destroyed in junta shelling that also razed dozens of homes following clashes with a local anti-junta group.

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