A 41-year-old farmer from northern Shan State’s Hsenwi Township has been hospitalized following being physically assaulted by Burma Army soldiers on Monday.
The abuse occurred when farmer Sai Shwe Aye was on his way home to Want Ho Tar village from his bean farm at around 6:00 p.m. He approached a bridge, which was being guarded on either side by Tatmadaw soldiers, on his motorized trishaw, and was stopped and interrogated, family members told SHAN.
“He said that he was a real villager but the soldiers didn’t trust him. Then he told the soldiers that if they didn’t believe him, they could follow him and see his house,” one of Sai Shwe Aye’s relatives said. “After that, soldiers brought him to their camp and beat him. He got injuries and was bleeding from them.”
Sai Shwe Aye had bruising on his body and cuts to his ears, head and face. He also had a broken finger, which he said was smashed by the butt of a gun; soldiers also shoved the gun into his chest. His eyes were swollen shut. He was admitted to Hsenwi hospital overnight.
According to villagers, the soldiers stopped beating Sai Shwe Aye when the police came to check on him. He was then released.
Sai Kyaw Khine, the victim’s younger brother, questioned the soldiers about their actions.
“I asked them why they beat my brother. The soldiers answered that they didn’t beat him, and had just asked him questions and pointed a gun at him,” Sai Kyaw Khine said, adding that he had reported the abuse to the village headman and other local authorities.
The Burma Army’s Maj Zay Yar reportedly visited Sai Shwe Aye’s home following the incident and asked family members not to take legal action against his soldiers.
“The situation is really complicated in northern Shan State. I don’t want to see this kind of incident, but now it has happened, so I have to tell the army officials about it,” parliamentarian Sai Wan Leng Kham, who is from Hsenwi and represents Shan State’s Constituency 3, told SHAN. “I have to request that the army officials take action against the perpetrators. If they think someone is guilty, they cannot beat the person, but rather, [they have to] take legal action. Pointing a gun at or beating a farmer is a lawless action. Everybody knows it.”
The Burma Army and three members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—have had military tension and clashes throughout northern Shan State. The military has set up its own checkpoints at the entrance to and exit from towns in the region. It was at one such checkpoint that Sai Shwe Aye was detained.