Tatmadaw Arrest of Villager for Alleged RCSS Links is an NCA Violation, Rights Group Says

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RCSS calls military charges against Shan civilians ‘absurd.’

Photo by Mong Pyin villager

Burma Army soldiers arrested a 52-year-old man from eastern Shan State’s Mong Pyin Township late last month, accusing him of having ties to the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS).

U Nandia, from Nam Tat village in Yangkham village-tract, has been in military detention for more than three weeks. On July 28, the Mong Pyin police station opened a case against him for allegedly violating the Narcotics Act.

Locals who know U Nandia say that he is a villager with no links to ethnic armed organizations.

“U Nandia is a normal civilian. He is not working for any organization,” a farmer from nearby Nampu village in Mong Pyin Township told SHAN. “He has been under arrest for 20 days. We have not heard anything since [he was taken]. The Tatmadaw hasn’t given us any information about him,” the farmer added.

Spokesperson for the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) Sai Hor Hseng confirmed that a Mong Pyin-based Burma Army battalion arrested U Nandia after suspecting him of working for the RCSS.

He pointed out that the RCSS is engaged in the government-led peace process and is signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the Burmese government and military.

“I think arresting people like this violates the NCA agreement,” Sai Hor Hseng.

A spokesperson from the RCSS, Lt-Col Sai Oo, told SHAN that the Tatmadaw has been warning locals in the area not to interact with or forge connections with the RCSS.

“They are threatening people not to link with the RCSS. Then they charge him with [violating] the Narcotics Act. It’s completely absurd,” Lt-Col Sai Oo said.

SHRF released a statement on July 25 calling for justice in the case of military abuses against civilians in eastern Shan State. They reported that soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 579 had beaten 32-year-old Ja Paul in Mong Leng village, Mong Pyin Township, on July 6 after accusing him of buying rice for RCSS soldiers.

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