Burma Army soldiers and members of the police force searched ethnic Ta’ang homes and the offices of multiple civil society organizations (CSOs) in Lashio, northern Shan State over the weekend.
Lway Poe Jay, a spokesperson for the Ta’ang Student and Youth Union (TSYU), said that more than 20 troops from the military and police searched the TSYU office twice on November 16, at 4:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., without warning.
“They came to search our office at 4:30 a.m., in early morning. We didn’t get up at that time. Next, they came again to search our office at around 2:00 p.m. after the city of Lashio was attacked with missiles. I think they had doubt about us. They asked us whether we had any visitors,” Lway Poe Jay told SHAN.
An armed group fired the missiles near Lashio from Byon Hill—located between Ward 9 and 11—at around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, believed to be directed at the train station. Shells landed on the runway of the Lashio airport and some houses were damaged, and unexploded shells were found in another house on Khur Ning Lane. A local woman has injured in the attack.
Lway Poe Jay said that she interpreted the search of the TSYU office as a threat to Ta’ang CSOs, because the officers showed up in full uniform and with military equipment.
“Soldiers are soldiers. Civilians are civilians. Even though we are working for our ethnic group, our jobs are completely different [from that of armed groups]. I think they have been monitoring us and our office. In my opinion, they are mainly attacking our ethnic group,” Lway Poe Jay said of the Burmese authorities.
The security forces also searched the home of Mai Myo Aung, who is working for the Ta’ang Law Support group, and other Ta’ang houses in Lashio on the same day.
“They came to search my house at around 4:30 a.m. on November 16. Ward administrators, police and soldiers came together to search my house. I think it was about 20 people in total. They asked me whether I had visitors. They also told me to report it to them if I have visitors,” Mai Myo Aung told SHAN.
The officers searched every room in his home, he said, adding that the search was unlawful.
“They have problems with armed groups but they have targeted the Ta’ang ethnic people. It causes ethnic conflict. I think they are targeting the whole Ta’ang ethnic people,” Mai Myo Aung told SHAN.
The soldiers and police also searched the offices of other Ta’ang CSOs, including the Ta’ang Education Foundation and Ta’ang boarding schools.