Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Tatmadaw Continues Abusing Ta’ang Civilians, CSOs Say

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Burma Army has continued to perpetrate human rights abuses against villagers in northern Shan State amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ethnic Ta’ang civil society organizations (CSOs) said.

The Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO), Ta’ang Student and Youth Union (TSYU), and Ta’ang Legal Aid (TLA) released a joint statement on April 8 declaring that military crimes have continued and that Ta’ang CSOs are afraid to launch coronavirus awareness campaigns in their area in the current political climate and lack of security.

“The world is scared of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this situation, the Burma Army has continued to commit human rights abuses. They continue to target civilians,” Lway Chi Sangar, the spokesperson for TWO, said. “Media outlets and CSOs are mainly focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic at the moment. Everybody is busy with this pandemic. I think that the Burma Army is taking advantage of that and is committing human rights abuses in this situation,” she told NMG.

General secretary of TSYU Lway Ler Shein said that the abuses are occurring “almost every day” over the last one to two months.

“We want justice and truth for them,” she said of the victims. “We want the army to take responsibility for what they have done. That’s why we released a joint statement.”

TSYU has reported three cases: the killing of a village headman by soldiers in the Mong Meik-Mangton area; the continued detention of seven villagers in Mong Meik, and the arrest—and later release—of 10 villagers in Kutkai Township.

In the case of the murdered headman, soldiers reportedly gave 3 million kyat (US$2,100) as compensation to his family, Lway Ler Shein said.

“The case in Mong Meik is really bad. They tried to keep them in the dark. They tried to cut off the phone connection. Nearly the whole village suffered. Men, women and children were beaten by soldiers—almost all of the villagers were beaten by the soldiers… I’d say that hundreds of people were beaten,” TWO’s Lway Chi Sangar told NMG.

NMG called teh Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team for comment on the situation but nobody had responded at the time of reporting.

“Human rights abuses not only occur in northern Shan State but also in other ethnic regions. We want both the government and army to consider the enforcement of law and order in the area. We don’t want any organization to commit this kind of human rights abuse. We want to demand respective organizations take full responsibility and solve this problem,” Lway Chi Sangar said.