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Burnings and beheadings: Myanmar junta escalates terror tactics against its people

Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.


The two young men are bloodied, their feet clamped in wooden stocks.

“What is the PDF (People’s Defence Force)?” their tormentors yell. “Dogs,” they reply.

Humiliated and dehumanized, the men are hogtied and dragged across the rough ground by their thick chains.

In front of dozens of onlookers, they are strung up to a tree and a fire stoked beneath them.

As smoke rises and the flames consume them, the two men writhe and scream in agony – their final moments of unimaginable pain and horror captured on video.

Phoe Tay was 21-years-old, Thar Htaung just 20.

The two young men had left their family farms in northwest Myanmar to join a local armed resistance group following the 2021 military coup, hoping to bring peace and democracy to the Southeast Asian country, their fathers told CNN.

But they were captured during a battle against the military on November 7 last year, and taken to a nearby village, where they were tortured and killedby a pro-junta militia under the watch of Myanmar army soldiers, according to witnesses.

CNN has built a timeline of events, using accounts from more than a dozen witnesses, villagers, resistance fighters, family members and analysts, with analysis of the video and pictures from the day using open source techniques. Those accounts and analysis point to the ruling military as being responsible for the killings, in contradiction of their public denials.

Phoe Tay and Thar Htaung’s deaths are horrific, but they are not anomalies in Myanmar, where the military is waging a war of terror against civilians as it finds itself increasingly on the back foot against a nationwide armed resistance determined to oust it from power.