A man who had billed himself as a spiritual healer murdered three toddlers in Myanmar after promising their guardians that he would exorcise demonic spirits from their bodies.
On Oct. 18, a man who claimed to have mystic powers visited a village outside of Yangon, Myanmar. The so-called mystic told the families of three children that he could perform an exorcism that would purge them of evil spirits, the Agence France-Press reports.
After allegedly incapacitating the entire village, the exorcist proceeded to beat a 3-year-old boy, a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old baby girl to death. A fourth girl was also brutalized but survived her injuries.
“On the night of the 18th, the three-year-old boy was beaten to death and the culprit threw him in the Twante canal,” said local lieutenant-major Kyaw Naing Soe. “On his return, he continued to beat the three young girls and two of them were killed.”
Tun Naing, the uncle of the murdered boy, recounted that the entire village became incapacitated after the mystic gave them a mysterious concoction to drink and worked them into a trance. Presumably, the man had drugged the entire village.
“Because of what he did everyone was out of their mind,” Naing said, alleging that the village residents were powerless to intervene as the mystic murdered his nephew.
“I still feel afraid of something in my mind,” Naing continued. “I don’t understand what is happening … Some people have gone to other mystics to release themselves from the curse.”
Police were alerted to the scene after the parents of the surviving victim brought her to the hospital. They found the bodies of three slain infants, each showing physical evidence of being punched, kicked and stamped on.
The man who had duped an entire village has been charged with murder, grievous bodily harm and hiding a dead body. The faux-exorcist is being detained in Insein prison.
While Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has a majority population of Theravada Buddhists, there are large swaths of its population who still place deep faith and reverence in astrology and mysticism known as yadaya, The Interpreter reports.
Myanmar is currently positioning itself as a fun Southeast Asia destination for Western tourists. In the past five years, the city of Yangon has been built up with hotels, The New York Times reports.
Despite the relative calm of Yangon’s streets, the city is surrounded by villages marked with religious tension.