Tatmadaw denies role in northern Shan killings
Local residents claim that five of the seven bodies found in shallow graves in Mong Yaw belonged to people who had been arrested by the Myanmar army three days prior to the grisly discovery.
THE Tatmadaw released a statement last week denying responsibility for the deaths of seven civilians found in shallow graves in Lashio township in northern Shan State.
The bodies of six men and one woman were found buried in an agricultural field in the former Mong Yaw sub-township on June 29. Locals said five of the victims were residents of Mong Yaw village who had been arrested by the Tatmadaw on June 26.
The Tatmadaw statement, released on June 29, denied the accusation, saying that the corpses were found following fighting in the area between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA).
A Tatmadaw battalion gathered the bodies from around the battlefield and interred them together near where they were found, the statement said, adding that the army is still investigating the case.
But Tar Gyoke Ja, vice chair of the TNLA, said no members of the TNLA had been killed near Mong Yaw.
“Our troops pitched a camp on the mountain far away from that area,” he said.
Sai Pong Mong, a member of the Tai Youth Organisation who saw the bodies, said five of the victims have been identified as villagers who had been arrested by the Myanmar Army on June 26.
“Ten people were arrested by the Tatmadaw on June 26 but five were released because they could speak Burmese. The other five were killed and we found their bodies,” he said, adding, “We still cannot identify one of the men and the woman. They might be from other villages.”
He said the “murders” have been reported to the relevant authorities in Mong Yaw.
Lieutenant Colonel Aung Myat Moe of the Northern Shan State Police Force told Radio Free Asia, “No one has filed an official report about the case, so no further action has yet been taken.”
Sai One Ling Kham, an Amyotha Hluttaw MP for Lashio township, said the incident threatened the peace process and the rule of law.
“Soldiers should perform their duties within the framework of the law, not kill villagers,” he said.
According to the Shan Herald Agency for News, the Manpang People’s Militia, led by Bo Mon, is the only armed group active in the area around Mong Yaw. Other groups are active 50 kilometres (30 miles) or more outside of town, including the TNLA, the SSPP/SSA and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).