After defeating a militia group in northern Shan State, the Tatmadaw sent in reinforcement troops and used civilians as forced labour, instead of implementing emergency measures to protect villagers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Shan rights group.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) reported that the Tatmadaw killed and tortured civilians, while forcing hundreds to work for its soldiers in Lashio district.
Since the pro-government Kawng Kha militia was disarmed at the end of March, the SHRF said it’s been pouring troops from the LID-99 into the area to secure the militia’s former stronghold near Pang Haew, a Kachin village that is located in Kutkhai township, about 60 km east of Lashio town.
SHRF reported that LID-99 soldiers arrested and shot a 27-year-old villager from Ho Ser when he returned from tending his cattle on April 26. The man’s bruised body was found by family members with multiple gunshot wounds in his abdomen half-buried near a road about 2 km from his village.
Sai Hor Seng, who is the spokesperson of the SHRF, told SHAN that human rights abuses against civilians “shouldn’t have happened” and his group strongly condemns any extrajudicial killings and forced labour committed by the Tatmadaw.
In its report, SHRF said, “the Burma Army should be helping protect them from the pandemic, rather than placing them in greater hardship and danger, and squandering the country’s budget to tighten the military’s grip on power.”