Members of NCA-Signatory Group ABSDF Arrested

The members are being detained in Mohnyin and are charged with violating Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Three members of the All-Burma Students Democratic Front’s northern branch (ABSDF-NB)—including the vice chairman—were arrested in Kachin State last week.

A case has been filed with the police against Vice Chairman Aung Swe Oo, and members Maung Oo and Kane Myint in Mohnyin, where they are being detained, ABSDF-NB chairperson Maj La Seng told NMG. The three are being charged with Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act, which prohibits communication or affiliation with “illegal” groups.

According to Maj La Seng, the men were arrested at around 11 p.m. on November 30 when they went to attend the funeral of another colleague, ABSDF-NB regional committee member Comrade Naing Tun Tun, also known as Pauk Kwe.

Capt Thiha Soe, who is serving in the Mohnyin-based Infantry Battalion 15 (IB 15) of the Burmese military, opened the file against the ABSDF-NB members. The Article 17(1) charges reportedly stem from the fact that they live in an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), “without permission” from the state. The charges are outlined in a complaint letter sent from IB 15, ordering the police to take action.

Maj La Seng said that the detained men had traveled with full documents, in accordance with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), when they went to attend the funeral in Mohnyin. The ABSDF is one of 10 armed organizations signatory to the agreement, in addition to the government and military.

“Our ABSDF is stationed in different places. For instance, the government recognizes KNU [Karen National Union] and ABSDF bases in KNU-controlled areas because of the NCA agreement, but they don’t recognize our ABSDF-NB bases in KIA-controlled areas, because KIA has yet to sign the NCA,” Maj La Seng said, adding that the recent arrests appeared to be an attempt to “divide our ABSDF” and that it showed a lack of recognition for the organization as an “NCA signatory partner.”

The ABSDF signed the NCA in October 2015. Days before the signing of the NCA, the former government led by ex-President U Thein Sein had already removed the ABSDF from the list of “unlawful associations.”

It is not the first time that ABSDF members have been charged under Article 17(1) since the NCA signing. On December 28, 2017, central committee member U Myin Htay was arrested at a checkpoint on a road in Kachin State when he was returning to the ABSDF-NB headquarters.