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Burmese government troops fighting ethnic armed groups in northern Shan State have been accused of abducting and torturing local villagers suspected of being rebel fighters.
The district of Kyaukme has since last month seen clashes involving the Burmese army and three ethnic armed groups — the Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army (TNLA), the Shan State Army-North (SSA-North) and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South).
Sai Tun Win, a National League for Democracy (NLD) MP for Kyaukme in the Shan State parliament, said the Burmese army on 16 May detained and beat up a local village headman and another villager.
“We were informed that a Burmese army convoy in the area abducted the headman of the village of Pandai and a resident of another village, Nawngpaing Gokhteik. We immediately contacted Military Affairs Security [military intelligence] and vouched for the men. We were told that they were later released,” said Sai Tun Win.
According to Sai Tun Win, another man was released 10 days earlier after being tortured while in army custody for nearly two weeks.
“One resident of Ekgyi village named Lon Nandia was detained on 24 April under suspicion of being a Shan rebel officer,” he said. “He was shocked with an electric baton and not fed for three days and two nights. He was just released on 6 May.”
Another villager identified as Lon Pe, a displaced resident of the village of Pangneng, was briefly detained by a Burmese army unit when he ventured out of Panglot, the village where he was taking shelter, said Sai Tun Win.
“The soldiers hit him in the face accusing him of being a rebel fighter and bashed him in the back with a stick,” he said, adding that he met both men on Tuesday morning.
He said both victims sustained external injuries from the torture and were being treated with traditional medicine at home. There are around 200 residents from neighbouring villages now sheltering in Panglot.
“I didn’t know until I went to Panglot recently that there were displaced people staying there. The majority are children and the elderly. They pretty much fled their homes empty-handed on 13 May and have no fresh clothes to change into and are surviving on food handouts from local residents.”
He said the displaced villagers are likely to run out of food in about two days and the NLD is reaching out to charity and aid organisations to provide relief.
Another clash that broke out in Kyaukme Township on Monday sent around 50 residents of the village of Matmang to a monastery in the nearby village of Hko-on.
Fighting between the government and ethnic armed groups broke out in Kyaukme after the Buddhist New Year in April, forcing more than 1,000 local civilians to flee their homes.