Thousands Demonstrate for TNLA Detainee’s Release
Demonstrators called for charges to be dropped against Nang Mo Hom, who has been held by the TNLA for one month.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More than 10,000 locals in Namkham, northern Shan State, demonstrated on Monday for the release of a Shan woman detained by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Monday marked one month that Nang Mo Hom, a mother of three, has been in the Ta’ang armed group’s custody. Attending the peaceful demonstration were her family members, Namkham locals, representatives from Shan civil society organizations, and youth groups.

“Our main demand is for Nang Mo Hom’s release. Another demand is that armed organizations not arrest people in a violent way in the future,” said Sai Thein Shwe of the Youth Network – Namkham. Nang Mo Hom was taken from her home at gunpoint by five TNLA soldiers on August 17.

“The people’s participation is very strong. I want the TNLA to listen to the people’s voice. We expected that around 3,000 people would participate in the demonstration but over 10,000 people joined,” Sai Thein Shwe told NMG.

Participants walked from a location near Namkham hospital to a pagoda downtown, chanting slogans calling for an end to illegal taxation and demanding that rule of law be enforced.

Monday’s demonstration was the second such event calling for Nang Mo Hom’s release. Her family members and more than 300 Namkham locals held a demonstration on September 7.

“They haven’t provided any information about her,” said Nang Mo Kham, Nang Mo Hom’s sister. “We don’t know where she is. We don’t have any communication. We are so worried about her. She was arrested when she was feeding her youngest son at home. Her younger daughter cried when she found out about it after coming back from school. Her kids ask about their mother. Her children are crying at home and ask for the release of their mother,” she said, adding that she is worried about the psychological effect of Nang Mo Hom’s arrest on her children.

The TNLA released a statement on September 3 stating that Nang Mo Hom had disturbed on-duty Ta’ang soldiers, and had therefore arrested her and charged her under the TNLA’s Article 333 of the Criminal Act.

Locals believe Nang Mo Hom is being blamed for the death of an on-duty TNLA soldier at the hands of the Burma Army last year, when he was shot after collecting “taxes” in Nang Mo Hom’s community. Her family has denied any role in the incident.

“We don’t have any contact phone numbers for the police or the Burma Army. We don’t have any communication with the police or army. My sister is not guilty,” said Nang Mo Kham.

Youth representative Sai Thein Shwe said that he is particularly worried about the impact of the arrest on relations between the ethnic Shan and Ta’ang communities in Namkham.

“People in this town participated in this demonstration not to create more tension between ethnic groups. We don’t want disunity among the people. We want this case to be concluded in a peaceful way,” he said.

The government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Council released a statement on September 10 condemning Nang Mo Hom’s arrest and calling for her release, saying that the act damaged the rule of law.

The Youth Network – Namkham, the Tai Youth Network and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy also have released statements demanding Nang Mo Hom’s release.