Ta’ang Demand Missing Villagers Be Released

Villagers from northern Shan State are tired of kidnappings and human rights abuses against civilians by armed groups.

By Network Media Group
March 18, 2019

Ta’ang locals demonstrated for a Shan armed group to release villagers they claim it abducted in Burma’s unruly northern Shan State.

Over one-thousand joined the protest in Lashio, including civil society groups (CSG) and friends and relatives of the missing villagers. During the event they shouted to “stop using locals as hostages”, “stop fighting inside the village” and for the missing villagers and others to be released immediately.

“We have two objectives for this demonstration,” said Lway Poe Kamay Chop, General Secretary of Ta’ang Women’s Organization. “First, we are calling for the release of the twelve Mangli villagers. The second is to stop all human rights abuses.”

The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) was fighting with Northern Alliance forces, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), when villagers went missing near Mangli village in Namtu township in early March.

Lway Poe Kamay Chop told NMG they have evidence it was RCSS/SSA soldiers that abducted them. A memory card, allegedly lost by a Shan soldier, was found. It has photos of a RCSS/SSA soldier posing with Chairman Gen Yawd Serk and pictures of the missing villagers.

Col. Sai Oo, a spokesperson for RCSS/SSA, said a statement will be released after investigating these claims and if his soldiers arrested the missing persons then they will be released.

Demonstrating might cause more problems than solutions, he said. “They are demanding what they want but in my opinion, it’s better to meet for discussions, or send a letter to a relevant organization. This kind of demonstration is political. It creates confusion and some organizations might take advantage to make the RCSS/SSA looks bad,” Col. Sai Oo said to NMG.

There have been many kidnappings and human rights abuses on civilians by various armed organizations operating in northern Shan State, according to Ta’ang CSOs.