Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lord of The Flies: ABSDF Student Army went brutally wild?

Like many failed uprisings against the seemingly never-ending military rule in Burma the 1988 Uprising popularly known as 8-8-88 Uprising left many tens of thousands of paranoid student revolutionaries in its wake.

In my time as an excited student rebel during 1974 U Thant Uprising was not that different from the later student-led uprisings in Burma. We students fled our homes and took refuge in the rural towns and villages till the whole thing died down and the peoples’ lives back in the cities were back to normal and the universities were reopened. And we all came back homes to go back to schools and universities.

But the aftermath of 1988 Uprising was starkly different as those rebelling students didn’t just flee from the chasing MIS (Military Intelligence Services) agents. They ran so fast and so far deep into the jungle that they ended up on the Eastern border line and met up with a variety of ethnic insurgents then active on the border like KNU, CPB, KIA, and other clandestine groups.

The student army now well-known as the ABSDF (All Burma Students’ Democratic Front) was the result of those chaotic events in 1988.  Those fleeing student-boys and also student-girls some of them as young as 12 ended up as the armed-soldiers in that rag-tagged student army controlled mainly by the KNU and KIA on the border.

And their anarchic course of actions finally resembled the well-known story of Williams Golding’s Lord of The Flies where the stranded boys went wild and started torturing and killing each other on a remote island.

This is a brutally archetypical Lord of The Flies story of ABSDF Northern Army in the Kachin Highland of Burma in 1992.

ABSDF Northern Army in 1992

In 1992 the ABSDF Northern Army was controlled by the ABSDF Northern Commission. Chairman of the Commission was Htun Aung Kyaw, the General Secretary was Aung Naing, and the military Commissar was Than Gyaung and his deputy was Myo Win.

That ABSDF Northern Army was basically living on a borrowed time as they were essentially surviving on the largesse of KIA (Kachin Independence Army) in the Kachin land by the Chinese border. 

By the April of that year there were serious conflicts between two rival student groups forming the ABSDF Northern Army. Serious monies from the jade concessions from KIA and from foreign sympathizers were rolling in and the previously-unthinkable riches had caused frictions between the two main groupings.

One controlled by the Chairman Htun Aung Kyaw and the rival one controlled by the General Secretary Aung Naing and his henchmen Than Gyaung and Myo Win.

Wild boys from Lord of the Flies.
Even though they were young students both Than Gyaung and Myo Win, especially the RIT student Myo Win from Moe-nhyin, by then were already notorious as the blood-thirsty serial head-choppers back in their home cities of mainland Burma during the prolonged lawless period of 1988 Uprising. And they were thirsty for serious blood and they found their victims in their own comrades from the rival student group led by Htun Aung Kyaw.

And in late 1991 they found the excuse for their coming atrocities. At their Lisen camp Than Gyaung had arrested and tortured a young student Soe Myint Aung after accusing him of contacting a nearby army camp in Lwejel. Under a prolonged period of brutal torture Soe Myint Aung finally and falsely confessed himself as a government spy and wrote a list of other spies so that the unbearable torture would stop and he would be eventually killed and released from his horrible sufferings.

The list unbelievably contained nearly one hundred names. All from Chairman Htun Aung Kyaw’s group and the Chairman himself. All of them were disarmed and arrested in early February 1992 by the group led by Aung Naing and his lieutenants Than Gyaung and Myo Win.

The torture, rapes, and murders went on for more than two months in early 1992 till none left alive in their makeshift jail cells.

Bounded ABSDF students accused as spies by their own comrades.
(From Left to Right) Kyaw Naing Oo, Nan Aung Htwe Kyi, Naing Win Aung, Nyi Nyi, Toe Kyi.
The Victims (Tortured and Murdered)

Following is the long list of murdered victims from the ABSDF Northern Army in 1992. I have to warn the readers that the details of how they were tortured and killed by their own comrades are violently graphic. That first batch of murders began on February 12 and lasted seven full days till February 19.

(One could easily imagine with absolute horror what ABSDF troops had done to the innocent civilians and captured military personnel. United States even had once classified ABSDF as a terrorist organization at the same time accepting into the US many ABSDF men, some of them   rapists and torturers and murderers, as political asylums.)

Htun Aung Kyaw (Mandalay, Chairman ABSDF North)

The brutal tortures he endured before his head was finally chopped off included multiple brandings with a red hot flat iron bar on his inner thighs, droppings of molten tar onto his naked belly, sodomizing with red hot pokers, being forced to drink the blood still dripping from a chopped head of a comrade, and being forced to bite in and held in his mouth a chopped hand of a comrade.

Prolonged torture was so severe eventually he couldn’t walk no more. He was forced to lay his head on the block and Myo Win tried to chop the head off. But the head didn’t come off completely and his body involuntarily stood up. Myo Win then finished him off by bashing his head in with back of a shovel.

He was only 23 or 24 and a student from Mandalay GTI (Government Technical Institute) and also the elected Chairman of ABSU (All Burma Student Union) Upper Burma.

Cho Gyi (Mandalay)

His palms nailed to the bar Cho Gyi was crucified on a cross. During interrogation tar plates were burnt on his belly. They then chopped one of his hands off from the wrist. He was finally beheaded.

Kyaw Wai (Mandalay)

Tied with a C4 explosive to both hands Kyaw Wai was forced to run around the camp’s makeshift soccer field. One mine exploded and took part of his right arm off. Untreated they put him back to the cell with mutilated arm.

Just before he was killed he begged for mercy. But once he knew they were going to chop his head off he yelled out that he was a true Buddhist and they could kill his body only not his spirit and soul. Myo Win then chopped his head off.

Aung Phoe (Rangoon)

Than Gyaung, Myo Win, and Ronal Aung Naing were all involved in torturing him. They tied a C4 mine to his foot and blew the leg off. His hands were spared from chopping off though. Next day his head was chopped off by Ronald Aung Naing.

Kyaw Kyaw Min (Monywa)

He was one of the few who lost the nerves once the Camp Committee read them the execution order signed by Ronald Aung Naing. Soiled with urine and shit he was bodily carried to the block and his head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Maung Maung Kywe (Rangoon)

Grandson of famous U Kyaw Nyein and son of Daw Cho Cho Kyaw Nyein was always critical of Myo Win from the beginning and he paid with his head for that. Myo Win and Aung Naing tortured him most and finally Myo Win himself chopped his head off.

Tu Tu (Myitkyinar)

Tu Tu was a Kachin Christian and he was asked to say his last prayers before his execution but he refused and took the beheading calmly.

Hla Myint (Tatkone)

Till the last minute of his life he strongly protested he was not a Government spy as accused. His head was chopped off by Ronald Aung Naing.

Yan Aung (Rangoon)

As he was being beheaded he tried to stand up so that Myo Win and Than Gyaung ended up bayoneting him to death.

Htay Myint Win (Rangoon)

He was most critical of his boss Myo Win before and at last minute Myo Win was heard yelling at him angrily that if he still wants to criticize him. But Myo Win also shot him dead as Htay Myint Win didn’t want to die headless.

Khin Cho Oo (Rangoon)

One of the girls was Khin Cho Oo.
She was the only girl murdered among the hundred accused and tortured as Government spies but she received most brutal torture and gang rape and sadistic abuse before her beheading. She was also forced to commit a disgusting blowjob on the dead body of Soe Naing her accused lover and one of the accused spies.

Completely naked she was buried alive in the ground except her head. A large knife was inserted into her mouth and swirled around to cut the most of her lips and tongue. Her body was pulled out of the ground and dragged along naked on the hard ground of the camp.

They then poked deep inside her vagina with their bamboo truncheons as they searched for the supposedly hidden bottle of poison to be used for assassinating the KIA and ABSDF top leaders. According to surviving witness Htin Lin Aung a fellow victim, Khin Cho Oo was screaming and screaming with unbearable pain as she couldn’t take it anymore in silence and he cried.   

After she was gang raped by thirty odd members of Myo Win’s faction of students including Myo Win and Than Gyaung and Aung Naing she was dragged to the head-chopping block outside on the camp ground. As she cried and begged them not to behead her Than Gyanung shot her multiple times with his pistol till death.

Poor young Burmese girl who loved her country dearly was completely naked with the bamboo stick still protruding from her woman-organ when she was finally killed by the animals of ABSDF Student Army. She was a Burmese-major student from RASU (Rangoon Arts and Science University) and her home was in Insein Township of Rangoon. 

Thar Du (Rangoon)    Head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Aung Thaung (Katha)    Head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Aye Myint (Katha)    Head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Thaung Myint (Sagaing)    Head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Thet Naing (Rangoon)    Head chopped off by Hla Saing.

Pyi Soe Naing (Rangoon)

After his arrest during the night he was buried alive standing with only his head exposed to the extremely cold weather of Laiseng on the Chinese border. The brutal bashing of his head by Myo Win’s gang caused massive inner bleeding and he died next morning.

His body was then dug up and his accused girlfriend Khin Cho Oo was forced to perform oral sex on his genitals.

Soe Win Than (Mandalay)

Despite being sick at the KIA field hospital nearby he was pulled out of his hospital and beheaded.

The Victims (Tortured and Died)

Following is the long list of dead tortured victims from the ABSDF Northern Army in 1992. I have to warn the readers that the details of how they were tortured by their own comrades are violently graphic. 

Myo Zaw Aung (Mandalay)

He was accused of having a hidden wireless set and so they tortured him brutally during the interrogation sessions. He was hanged upside down from a ceiling beam and a long piece of electric wire was inserted deep into his rectum and electric current was applied. He later died as his insides were rotten and damaged from the electric burns.

Kyaw Htay (Bamaw)

During his interrogation his eyes were pricked multiple times and finally pried out of the sockets. He died of his eye wounds.

Khin Maung Soe (Indaw)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Zaw Win Chit (Bamaw)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Win Thein (Wuntho)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Kyaw Kyaw Oo (Katha)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Yar Kut (Yingiang)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

U Sein (Rangoon)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Tin Maung Aye (Katha)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Aung Min (Mandalay)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Soe Min Aung (Mandalay)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Aye Kyaw (Mandalay)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Tint Lwin (Myitkyinar)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Win Naung (Rangoon)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

Aung Koe (Bamaw)    Died in the interrogation-cum-torture session.

The Villains (Rapists, Torturers, and Murderers)

Following is the list of the ABSDF men directly responsible for the unspeakable atrocities of torture and rapes and murders of their own innocent comrades after falsely accusing them of being Government spies.

Dr. Naing Aung (Chairman ABSDF Central)

The former ABSDF Chairman during that time has been persistently accused by many ABSDF members as the main figure ordering the killings and later protecting the executioners.

He was offered a scholarship to study at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2002, but Harvard quietly deferred his scholarship indefinitely after the University learned of his alleged role in the executions from the protest letters sent by the professed victims of many ABSDF crimes. 

Naing Aung in turn has accused his predecessor Moe Thee Zun (now residing in the US) as the ABSDF Chairman who ordered the killings of students from Rangoon and Mandalay. But he also implicated himself in his ABSDF statement dated 31 May 1992 and released to the international Media as follows.

“I have no more disputes about the righteousness to execute 15 spies (Htun Aung Kyaw and 14 students executed in February 1992). However, I myself, on behalf of the ABSDF Central Committee, have the responsibilities for that even though there was no participation by the Central Committee on the decision process.”

According to Naing Lin an escapee out of over 100 arrested Dr. Nain Aung came to Pajau Camp on February 10 and personally interrogated all the arrested one by one. And two days later on 12 February 1992 the 15 students including the Chairman Htun Aung Kyaw he and other had chosen as the ringleaders of the so-called MIS spies were executed by beheading.

Dr. Naing Aung is now the Executive Director of the Network for Development and Democracy (NDD) and still actively involving in anti-government activities on the Thai border.

Aung Naing (General-secretary ABSDF North)

Aung Naing and his prisoners (1992).
The former ABSDF (Northern) General Secretary during that time is now a policy board member of the Network for Development and Democracy (NDD). And this was his confession of the crimes he committed from the book “All Wars Are dirty” written by Phil Thornton.

"At this time I was elected general secretary. I was in charge of our underground network. We used it to recruit students inside Burma. We began to notice we were able to go back and forth through enemy lines without problems, but we found we had recruited  students who had family connections with Military Intelligence. Our numbers quickly grew to more than 800. We suspected our network had been infiltrated by MI. Reports from the front line indicated we were losing battles in suspicious circumstances. Our soldiers noticed knife marks had been cut in trees that could have led Burmese soldiers to our positions.

We started to watch some people. We arrested four or five and, after interrogation, we had a small list. The list included members of our central committee. We found out the National Intelligence Bureau had trained some of these as spies, and others were just used as informers. I think some were motivated by ultra-nationalistic visions of a Burman master race.

It was very difficult for us to know what to do. I panicked. We knew nothing about human rights, or, more to the point, we didn't understand. We asked the KIO to help us to interrogate. By now we had a list of eighty spies. We made videotapes in case no one believed us. We chained the spies and locked them in the barracks.

A Northern ABSDF central committee decided fifteen spies would be given the death penalty. We were at war, in armed struggle with the Burmese regime. Our constitution and law said we could give spies the death penalty. Many of our comrades had been killed because of these spies. Some members called for the death penalty for the entire eighty. We debated, argued, and finally agreed to fifteen. The sentences were determined by what the spies had done and how important they were to the [Burmese] military.

Some of them were shot and some were beheaded. They were shot at close range by pistol by our officers. We thought the guns caused more suffering, so we thought if we switched to machetes it would be less. But they were not cleanly beheaded, even though the spinal cords were severed. I watched . . . it was done in front of all ABSDF soldiers.”

Ronald Aung Naing (2011).
In 2008 notoriously anti-government BBC Burmese Program offered Aung Naing (a) Ronald Aung Naing a permanent position in their London Studio. Once the news spread among the Burmese exiles Nan Aung Htwe Kyi one of his tortured victims now living in Australia wrote protest letters to Tin Htar Swe the head of the BBC Burmese Program. Other ABSDF members also wrote protest letters.

But Tin Htar Swe just simply ignored them. Finally the protesters stepped up the campaign by taking their protest direct to the Director of BBC News. The pressure mounted and our Ronald Aung Naing had to quit his job at BBC Burmese.

(To be continued…..)

Related Posts at this links:
Is ABSDF one of MIS Khin NYunt's Strategic Creations?

                      (Japanese TV reporting of ABSDF-North massacre at Pajau KIA camp.)