Ta’ang CSOs Want Justice For Victims of Conflict in Namtu Township

By Network Media Group
Monday, May 17, 2021

Ta’ang civil society groups condemned the violence and destruction in Namtu Township by Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), during which time citizens have been detained and 117 homes razed.

“We highlighted the human rights abuses that have happened in Namtu between March 28 and the first week of May… including arresting locals, collecting tax from residents and burning homes. We want to negotiate with them (RCSS) for a peaceful coexistence and we are ready to meet with any organization who can mediate this issue for us…the important thing is how to help the IDPs (internally displaced persons),” the Ta’ang Political Consultative Committee (TPCC) spokesperson said.

RCSS has been fighting with Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) in Namtu Township recently since the last week of March. During this time, there have been at least 5 villagers arrested by ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). Almost 2,000 villagers are displaced by the fighting.

“These people lost their home; they need justice and reparation. They need help to re-build their homes,” a spokesperson for Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU) told NMG. “We want to reveal that human rights abuses are happening during the conflicts between EAOs, as well as during the fighting with Tatmadaw (Burma Army).”

Locals say they have evidence that RCSS soldiers are responsible for torching homes and detaining civilians. A man from Namtu told NMG that RCSS soldiers pretended to be fighting so civilians in the area would flee their villages and they could burn their homes. He said homes in Mang Li, Mang Hser, Mang Jet and Yay Ou villages were burned down.

A Ta’ang youth working to help free detained villagers said two people were arrested in Mang Hser village on March 28. In Yay Ou village, RCSS arrested a father and two sons on April 6, the youth said.

“Why did they arrest five Ta’ang villagers during the clashes. Where have they detained these people? Are they still alive? This is something we don’t know it. But we asked RCSS about it, they claimed they were not responsible. Yet, we heard that RCSS soldiers in military uniform, speaking Shan, arrested these villagers.”

RCSS’s mouthpiece Tai Freedom has denied that the EAO burned homes or arrested civilians. Ta’ang CSOs, however, want the violence to stop and for action to be taken against the military units they say are responsible. They want the five civilians who are missing returned to their families and they’ve asked for help from Shan CSOs and political parties.