A report by the Burma Army’s True News Information Team that 20 soldiers deserted the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) is untrue, according to an RCSS spokesperson.
On July 24, the Tatmadaw’s news team reported that 20 new recruits had fled Loi Tai Leng, the RCSS headquarters on the Thai-Burma border. The report alleged that the new recruits had been forced to join the Shan armed group.
The Burma Army alleged that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) had temporarily detained the troops and transferred them to Tachileik-based Burma Army columns in eastern Shan State on the evening of July 23.
RCSS spokesperson Lt-Col Sao Oum Khur said that the report was an attempt by the military at fostering a negative public image of the RCSS.
“It’s not true. It’s just propaganda,” he told SHAN. “We have questions of whether they are intentionally saying this in order to destroy the good image of our organization.”
Lt-Col Sao Oum Khur said that such reports could have a negative impact on peace building, and violated agreements settled on by the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement’s (NCA) Joint Monitoring Committee.
Nyi Rang, who is in charge of the UWSA’s information department, told SHAN that he “had yet to know anything” about the report of the RCSS deserters being transferred to the Burma Army by Wa forces.
The RCSS is a signatory to the NCA with the government and military, but despite the Shan army’s participation in the peace process, it has continued to face clashes with the Tatmadaw in Shan State.