Govt re­jects re­port of mas­sive de­ten­tion in Mong Koe

The Myanmar Times - - News - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­times.com

THE Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice has de­nied claims from a civil so­ci­ety group that dozens of civil­ians in Mong Koe town, north­ern Shan State, were be­ing de­tained ar­bi­trar­ily.

The Kachin Peace Net­work re­leased a state­ment on Novem­ber 29 say­ing about 70 civil­ians at a wed­ding cer­e­mony were de­tained by the Tat­madaw on Novem­ber 20, the same day a co­or­di­nated as­sault against po­lice and mil­i­tary out­posts was launched by the North­ern Al­liance-Burma.

The North­ern Al­liance, com­prised of the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA), staged at­tacks on sev­eral Tat­madaw and po­lice po­si­tions in Muse and Kutkai town­ships on Novem­ber 20.

U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, said the gov­ern­ment had looked into the claims of mas­sive civil­ian de­ten­tions by the Tat­madaw in Mong Koe.

“Since the fight­ing broke out on Novem­ber 20, the mem­bers of armed eth­nic groups mixed in with civil­ians in Mong Koe town. So the Tat­madaw could not do counter-of­fen­sives,” he said.

“We con­firm that the in­for­ma­tion [from civil so­ci­ety groups] is not cor­rect,” he said.

U Zaw Htay said his of­fice had con­tacted not only Tat­madaw troops on the ground but also lo­cal po­lice.

The Kachin Peace Net­work state­ment said 12 Chi­nese cit­i­zens, among a wed­ding party of some 70 who were ini­tially de­tained, were re­leased af­ter negotiations with lo­cal Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties on Novem­ber 21. Two Myan­mar civil­ians were re­port­edly re­leased on Novem­ber 25.

Some 56 re­main in cus­tody, said the Kachin Peace Net­work’s Gum Sha Aung.

“We col­lected the in­for­ma­tion based on the ac­counts of the two Myan­mar civil­ians who were re­leased on Novem­ber 25. They are now in IDP [in­ter­nally dis­placed per­son] camps,” he said.

He said the rest are now ap­par­ently be­ing de­tained at Tat­madaw mil­i­tary out­posts in Mong Koe.

The state­ment is­sued by KPN urges the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary to im­me­di­ately and un­con­di­tion­ally re­lease the civil­ians, and en­sure the pro­tec­tion of hu­man life and dig­nity as an ut­most pri­or­ity.

The KPN also said it firmly de­mands that all war­ring fac­tions re­frain from com­mit­ting crimes against hu­man­ity, as well as ad­her­ing to in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law and hu­man rights law in their terms of en­gage­ment.

“We urge them to strictly fol­low the Geneva Con­ven­tion,” said Gum Sha Aung.

U Zaw Htay said the Tat­madaw has so far de­tained just five mem­bers of the North­ern Al­liance.

Since fight­ing be­gan on Novem­ber 20, both the gov­ern­ment and the eth­nic al­liance have also been en­gaged in a war of in­for­ma­tion, with both sides ac­cus­ing the other of harm­ing civil­ians.

The State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice In­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee yes­ter­day re­leased a state­ment say­ing 10 civil­ians have died since the flare-up be­gan in north­ern Shan State. The to­tal num­ber of dead was said to be 14, with three re­ported to be po­lice and another be­long­ing to a lo­cal gov­ern­ment-backed mili­tia.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial re­ports, the num­ber of civil­ians in­jured so far has reached 37, as well as 11 po­lice and two civil ser­vants.

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