More than 10,000 local people protested the Burma Army in Kyaukme, northern Shan State on Friday morning, calling for justice for local victims of military violence.
The Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) had clashes in Kyaukme Township between June 25 and 29. Eyewitnesses said that a Burma Army military column shot dead 59-year-old Loong Su in Pang Ken village in Hai Kwee village-tract during the fighting. Another 55-year-old woman suffered gunshot injuries and 60-year-old Loong Aik Maung was beaten by soldiers.
Those who protested in Kyaukme town on July 10 said they were trying to bring attention to these abuses.
“More than 10,000 local people joined in the demonstration today. This is the highest number of people to have participated in a protest in Kyaukme,” Sai Tun Win, parliamentarian for Kyaukme Township, told SHAN.
He added that the protesters came from more than 30 villages in the township.
Another complaint from locals are shootings, for which no one has been arrested.
“Shootings frequently occur in Kyaukme Township. Eight people were shot dead in Mong Tin village tract. Cattle trucks are often attacked. These things led local people to joining in the protest. They demonstrated amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sai Tun Win said.
Parliamentarians have reported civilian murders by the military reported to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, urging an investigation.
“The Tatmadaw has shot dead and beaten civilians. People want the government to take action on these matters. We don’t want a Tatmadaw that kills people,” a 30-year-old man who participated in the demonstration, told SHAN.
Kyaukme-based Burma Army troops gave 50,000 kyat (US$36) to Loong Aik Maung and the woman who was injured by soldiers, and the same amount to the family of Loong Su, who was shot dead by soldiers.
Nang Hla Yee, a women’s capacity building trainer in Kyaukme, said that locals are afraid that military abuses in the area will escalate.
“We want don’t want human rights abuses to happen again the future. Not only Shan ethnic people, but also other ethnic people do not want to face these kinds of abuse,” Nang Hla Yee told SHAN.
Parliamentarians for Kyaukme Township had to seek permission from the commander of the northern Shan State military presence to hold the demonstration on Friday.
Police tried to block the demonstration from taking place but allowed it to go ahead after negotiations, locals said.