Two vil­lagers de­tained for al­leged KIA con­nec­tions

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

TWO vil­lagers from the Mong Si vil­lage tract of Shan State’s Kutkai town­ship were de­tained on Oc­to­ber 17 be­cause po­lice sus­pected that they were pro­vid­ing food to mem­bers of the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), lo­cals told The Myan­mar Times.

One day later, 90 or­gan­i­sa­tions de­manded that the mil­i­tary re­spect the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment (NCA), which stip­u­lates that the Tat­madaw and eth­nic armed group sig­na­to­ries avoid un­law­ful, ar­bi­trary ar­rests, en­trap­ment, pros­e­cu­tion and judge­ments against civil­ians. Many also de­cried the use of the Un­law­ful As­so­ci­a­tion Act, which makes it il­le­gal for civil­ians to con­tact or pro­vide food or other pro­vi­sions to non­state armed groups, even un­der duress.

La Htaung, 30, and Haung Daung, 23, were sum­moned to meet with a mil­i­tary cap­tain this week. When they did not re­turn from the meet­ing, com­mu­nity lead­ers made in­quiries with the mil­i­tary and learned that the vil­lagers were be­ing held un­der sus­pi­cion of pro­vid­ing food to KIA troops.

“Now they are de­tained at the po­lice sta­tion, without ev­i­dence, be­cause it is sus­pected that they sup­ported the KIA,” said Kachin youth leader Ma Mai Mai.

“That al­ways hap­pens to the civil­ians in the con­flict zone. Now the elders of the com­mu­nity are try­ing to get them out by prov­ing they are real vil­lagers.”

In con­flict zones, vil­lagers of­ten face vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion from both state and non-state troops. Sol­diers will demand food and other pro­vi­sions when pass­ing through, leav­ing vil­lagers with lit­tle choice.

“De­tain­ing civil­ians without ev­i­dence is a kind of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion,” said Shan Youth Net­work ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Sai Nor Hseng. “We used to face that kind of de­tain­ment from 1990 to 1992. It causes lo­cals suf­fer­ing. It should not be hap­pen­ing at a time then the coun­try is talk­ing about peace build­ing.”

In Au­gust, fight­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw and the KIA in Kachin and north­ern Shan states again kicked off. A cease­fire be­tween the two sides, which had been in place since 1994, broke down in 2011.

Four vil­lagers de­tained last year in Kachin’s Tanai town­ship are still in cus­tody, fac­ing charges un­der the Un­law­ful As­so­ci­a­tion Act for al­legedly mak­ing con­tact with an armed group, ac­cord­ing to Ma Mai Mai. The con­tro­ver­sial law, un­der which dozens of civil­ians in con­flict zones have been charged, can lead to a five-year prison sen­tence.

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