This photo has circulated in reports about a deadly landslide disaster in Myanmar in 2020 – months before the military coup

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A photo of corpses has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Twitter and a discussion forum alongside a claim that it shows anti-coup demonstrators who were killed by Myanmar’s military. The claim is false; the photo has circulated several months before the military coup in reports about a deadly landslide in Kachin, a state in northern Myanmar, in July 2020 – months before the military coup in February 2021. 

The photo was published on Twitter here on March 16, 2021.

The tweet reads: “Many peaceful protesters are brutally and mercilessly arrested. More than 120 civilians were killed and thousands were injured by Junta after 42 days Coup. They turn Myanmar to slaughter ground.”

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on March 17, 2021

The post circulated as Myanmar security forces continue to violently crack down on  anti-coup protests, which erupted after the military seized power from the former civilian government on February 1, 2021, as AFP reported here.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group, stated on March 16, 2021, that at least 180 people have been killed since the unrest began, AFP reported here

The photo has also appeared alongside a similar claim here, here and here, where it has been retweeted more than 220 times. 

The picture was also posted with a similar claim on Korean discussion forum Gasengi here.

The claim, however, is false. 

A keyword search on Google has found the same photo published here on Myanmar Update News, a local news website, on July 3 2020, nearly seven months before Myanmar’s military coup.

The article is titled: “Images of Hpakant landslide burying unidentified victims”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Myanmar Update News photo (R): 

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (L) and Myanmar Update News’ photo (R)

The photo was also published on a blog here on July 2, 2020. The post is titled: “Hpakant landslide update”.

Hpakant is a township in Kachin state, in northern Myanmar. 

As AFP reported here on July 2, 2020, more than 160 jade miners were killed in Hpakant following a landslide that occurred after heavy rain in the area. 

Similar photos of the landslide fatalities were also published in July 2020 by local news organisations such as Narinjara here and Khit Thit News here, and by local photographer Zaw Moe Htet here.