A villager said that the men were suspected of RCSS/SSA links because they were using walkie-talkies to communicate.
Troops from the Burma Army arrested and interrogated two farmers overnight in southern Shan State’s Mong Pan Township last week, accusing them of having ties to the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA).
Soldiers from Infantry Battalion 296 (IB 296) arrested 20-year-old Sai Jikta and 40-year-old Sai Jingna on August 3, while they were working in a paddy field. The two men live in Nawng Loum village.
A resident of Nawng Loum said that the men were suspected of being linked to the RCSS/SSA because the government soldiers witnessed them using walkie-talkies to communicate, a tool that the troops associate with armed group activity. They then entered the paddy field and held them both at gunpoint.
“The phone signal is not good in this area—many people in my village use walkie-talkies. The two victims also use them,” the resident explained.
The Tatmadaw soldiers reportedly covered Sai Jingna’s and Sai Jikta’s heads with black bags after placing them under arrest, and then proceeded to question them throughout the night.
Sai Jingna and Sai Jikta were released the following day after the village headman demanded it, the resident said.
IB 296 is based in Kunhing Township, also in southern Shan State, and operates under the Military Operation Command 17, which is based out of Kholam. In January, the Shan Human Rights Foundation reported that IB 296 had attacked four RCSS/SSA troops while they were guarding their camp in Loilem Township. One was killed and one was injured.
The RCSS/SSA is a Shan ethnic armed group that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Burma Army and the government in 2015.