Ten Civilians Missing After Shan State Clashes
Locals speculate that they were arrested and are being detained by an armed group.
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Ten villagers from the northern Shan State community of Mangli have been missing for one week, following clashes between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and joint forces from the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
According to other locals, no one, including family members, has been able to contact the missing people—all reportedly ethnic Ta’ang men—since the fighting occurred along the Hsipaw-Namtu road from February 27 until March 3.
“We haven’t had any communication with them. Some people went missing when they stayed in the village, and some when they fled the village. We don’t know who arrested them. I just know I am so worried about them,” said one internally displaced person, who spoke to NMG on the condition of anonymity.
Ko Myo, who works with the Hsipaw chapter of the outreach group Volunteers Without Borders, told NMG that two of the missing men had stayed in the village while the fighting went on, and eight had left. One is a member of his own organization, he added.
“We went to the village yesterday. We didn’t find them,” Ko Myo said.
The Lashio-based Ta’ang Legal Assistance group released a statement on March 4 demanding that if an armed group had arrested these villagers, that they be released immediately and unharmed, on the basis that the act was a violation of the Geneva Convention.
“The missing people are Ta’ang. In my experience, if somebody goes missing in clashes, they never come back alive. That’s why we demanded that they be released alive,” Lway Ei Lao Ki, a legal assistant with the group, said. “It would be a war crime to arrest civilians. We haven’t placed blame on any armed group—we just want them to be released alive.”
Officials from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and the Ta’ang Literature and Culture Association met displaced people from Mangli on Tuesday. Members of the community who met with the visitors said that they had offered to negotiate with armed groups for the release of any detainees.
NMG contacted the armed groups in question for comment on the missing men, but was unable to get comment.
Family members, locals, volunteer groups, civil society organizations and political parties have called for the men’s release. The list of missing men has been sent to the Namtu Township administration office along with a call that they be located and freed.