Six civilians killed and hidden in Yay Yo toilet pit
5 Apr 2022
This case investigates the discovery of six bodies found in a toilet pit in Yay Yo village, Loikaw on 27 January 2022
This case investigates the discovery of six bodies found in a toilet pit in Yay Yo village, Loikaw on 27 January 2022 following an attack on 25 January 2022. User-generated content (UGC) of the incident provided information which could be geolocated, chronolocated, and analysed to verify the killings. The known operation of the military within this area and during this time leads Myanmar Witness to believe they were involved in the deaths of two men and four boys under the age of 18.
On 25 January 2022, social media posts claimed SAC troops from the 55th and 99th Divisions launched an offensive in Loikaw Township, Kayah State. Ongoing fighting in the area had prompted residents to evacuate. Reports allege the soldiers were called to Yay Yo village near Nanattaw ward and captured six locals – including four minors and two elderly men – who had returned from a refugee camp. It is further claimed that the attackers beat and shot them, then dumped them into the outdoor toilet pit of a house. Upon returning from evacuation on 27 January, a local from the Yay Yo area discovered the bodies in the toilet pit and called the social help community team.
According to Than Lwin Khet News, these six individuals had allegedly returned from the camp due to wanting to be home; however, the military had advised a Dalan (informer) in the village to report any arrivals. Upon receiving the report, soldiers arrived and detained them before beating and shooting them.
Local social help community group “Shwe Nyaung Pin” recovered the bodies and transported them to a burial site to be laid to rest. Members of this group documented the findings and posted images on social media. “The legs and bracelets of the dead bodies were broken, and also there were lacerations on the face and mouth, as well as puncture bullet wounds on the bodies” said the social help community. Four of the six bodies were said to be minors under the age of 18, based on Facebook witness testimony. They have been named in a post as Khu Yujin, Kyaw Kyaw, John Paul and Dale. In addition to the murders, at least one house was ransacked. This is believed to have been the house in the compound with the toilet, although this cannot be confirmed. Locals reported hearing gunshots and spent bullet cases were documented on the ground.
Myanmar Witness has geolocated the imagery of the event to this location [19.709889, 97.189272]. The location of the victims burial site has also been geolocated to 19.62419946,97.2488023.
See this overview of our methodology at Myanmar Witness.
This report is limited by the small sample of available original UGC from which to derive conclusions. Several of the images appear to have been uploaded with the intent to highlight certain aspects of the events, however; they came with no description, increasing the difficulty of the verification process.
The information obtained by Myanmar Witness comes from an area with ongoing conflict so it is assumed that there is a selection bias, due to availability of internet, fear of repercussions for uploading, and unavailability of information from official sources. Myanmar Witness strives to eliminate as much of this bias as possible by using both focussed and broad search terms in multiple languages across social media to reduce the effects of this bias and ensure as much information from a range of sources is collected.
Crucially, no UGC was identified depicting the killings or subsequent concealment of the bodies taking place, it is not known whether such footage may exist, however; an understanding of the actors responsible could only be inferred from the available information and not directly determined.
There were several instances of drawing conclusions from witness statements which had been corroborated in the news or on social media, care has been taken to make this clear as well as to report this information as allegations rather than verifiable fact.
Hypothesised timeline of the incident
Bodies found early morning 27 January 2022, between 0700-0800. Local help organisation called and arrived shortly after.
Local help organisation assists in the excavation of the pit and the recovery of the bodies with images taken around 1000.
Bodies driven to the burial's location with images taken around 1100 and sent to local media by 1200.
Image of toilet pit published at 1245.
Image of burial published 1423.
Visualisation of the incident
From analysis of the images of the scene (Figure 1), a rough layout was sketched (Figure 2) of the area of interest. The toilet appeared to be in the corner of a fenced-off area with trees and buildings visible in the background.
Figure 1: Extraction of the bodies from the toilet pit, posted on Facebook.
Figure 1 depicts the corner of a fenced-off area with a wall running parallel to, but beyond, the fence (top right, yellow arrow). There is a fenced area with trees in the background as well as two buildings in view (Building A: centre top right, red box, and; Building B: top right corner, yellow circle). Building A appears narrow and, assuming a rough window width (18 pixels) of 1.5m, calculating the pixel width of the building (82 pixels) returns roughly 7-9m for the building’s width. Right next to the toilet is a small tree (green circle). The trees in the background have bright green leaves and are not tall, suggesting they are likely young and perhaps on a plantation.
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