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Stories left behind in the ashes

An analysis of events involving burnt remains of victims in the Myanmar conflict from March 2022 to September 2023.


A verified geolocation of event 147 from the "Stories left behind in the ashes" report


Before and since the start of the February 2021 coup in Myanmar, many violent events have occurred in the country, including burnt villages (as reported by the Ocelli Project and within Myanmar Witness reports), beheadings, and abundant airstrikes.


Through the collection and analysis of user-generated content (UGC), Myanmar Witness has investigated, verified, and reported on potential human rights violations associated with the conflict across Myanmar. By doing so, Myanmar Witness identified several claims related to the burning of victims, alive or deceased, intentionally or indirectly.


Myanmar Witness has investigated events between March 2022 and September 2023 involving burnt bodies. 146 separate events were identified which included burnt bodies. Unique imagery of the victims was available for 80 of these events. Of the 444 victims identified, 150 victims were visible within UGC.


The events were categorised as:

  • Burnt alive

  • Burnt indirectly

  • Burnt after death


A number of events did not fall into these three categories, which were marked as “other” (such as Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and one with imagery of a relatively standard cremation), and events with limited information were marked as “unclear”. Of the 146 events, 104 occurred in Sagaing, a region that has been a hotspot during the conflict. Magway State was the second most common location, with 21 cases. Additionally, 35 events specifically mentioned a female victim.


Four case studies have been further investigated to show the different nature and intensity of the events. This includes: piles of bodies, child casualties, and victims with significant wounds. This investigation has revealed the mutilation of bodies, disrespect for the dead and the infliction of untold suffering on the civilian population; activity which could violate multiple international laws. 


According to various reports, the SAC were allegedly involved in many of these cases.  Myanmar Witness cannot yet verify this but will continue to monitor any developments in order to assess responsibility.


Read the full report here.

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