Shan State Village Headman ‘Brutally Tortured’ By Burma Army

Tuesday, December 4, 2019

The headman of a village in Namhsan Township, northern Shan State, has yet to recover after being beaten by Burma Army soldiers last week in a confrontation that led to more than 60 people being forced to serve as human shields against landmines.

NMG previously reported that Burma Army troops detained 63 civilians from the community of Mang Mai Kwam in Hu Kheng village tract for around five hours on November 22, forcing them to march in single file ahead of soldiers through an area known to have landmines.

According to locals, a mine had exploded outside the village when soldiers left the community that morning. The soldiers then beat headman Mai Hpoe Nyunt and rounded up residents at 9:00 a.m., demanding that they walk with them through the landmine contaminated area.

During the assault on the Mang Mai Kwam headman, he endured injuries to his head, face and chest.

“They hit me with their helmets. They hit me on my head and cheeks. They kicked me in my chest. I fell down and became unconscious,” Mai Hpoe Nyunt told NMG. “First, they arrested six people, including me. Later on, they arrested all of the villagers. I vomited along the road. Even though I vomited, they didn’t allow me to stop walking. I was brutally tortured by the soldiers. They tied my hands and legs with rope.”

The headman said he was singled out to serve as a porter, and had to carry a backpack he estimated weighed more than 50 pounds, despite his internal and external injuries following the beating.

“People near me tried to help me but the soldiers didn’t allow them to help me. They ordered that only I carry it. I was really tortured,” Mai Hpoe Nyunt explained.

A fellow Mang Mai Kwam villager spoke to NMG on the condition of anonymity about the headman’s current condition. He has been unable to eat, because he is having difficulty both chewing and swallowing food, and continues to vomit. He is currently staying in Namhsan public hospital, but community members are concerned that his family cannot afford the medical costs being incurred.

“His wounds are swollen. He hasn’t recovered. He can get up, but he can’t stand for long,” the villager said.

Ethnic Ta’ang civil society organizations have spoken out against the targeting of civilians by the military in northern Shan State.

“They should not take local people as hostages in the clashes. I strongly oppose it,” Mai Myo Aung, who is working with Ta’ang Legal Aid, told NMG.

The Burma Army has yet to acknowledge the incident in Mang Mai Kwam.

However, on November 23, one day after the beating of Mai Hpoe Nyunt and the abuse and endangerment of villagers, the office of commander-in-chief reported on its official website that the Burma Amy had captured weapons belonging to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). The seizure of missiles and ammunition occurred in Namhsan, also in Hu Kheng village tract. They also said they had taken over 41 TNLA camps.