Allegations of extortion by police have been lodged by travelers passing through a checkpoint in northern Shan State’s Mong Yai Township. The officers have been operating the checkpoint on Mong Yai to Kehsi road since April. Travelers claim they have to pay them money to be allowed to pass through.
“If they see a stranger’s face, they ask to see their vehicle license,” said Khun Lurn, who lives in Mong Yai. “If a vehicle is carrying sugar cane, they ask the driver where it came from and where it is going. Then they threaten them and ask for money.”
Khun Lurn told SHAN they also collect money from locals, but they don’t ask for money from their friends or anyone from the town center of Mong Yai. “They shouldn’t be collecting money. If a citizen breaks the law, they should be charged in court and pay the fine. But it’s illegal for police to collect money from residents.”
SHAN repeatedly called the Mong Yai police station for comment, but no-one responded.
A driver, who spoke to SHAN on condition of anonymity, said this kind of thing never happened a couple years ago. “Threatening and extorting money from people is unfair. And we want the regional authorities to take action against them.”
Khun Lurn said a letter of complaint was sent to the House of Representatives. Since no-one has responded, another letter will be mailed to the Ministry of the Interior. Frustrated locals are hoping this problem can be resolved soon.
Senator Sai Wan Leng Kham of Lashio District said he plans to bring up the issue with the appropriate departments in the District Administration. “It shouldn’t happen,” he said. “People already have enough problems. I think senior officers can’t control their lower-ranking officers.”
“We’re building a democratic nation,” Sai Wan Leng Kham said, explaining that police and others in the government shouldn’t abuse their authority. They should pursue their “duties with dignity.”
In addition to these allegations, in May, police and the Nam Poung People’s Militia Force allegedly collected between 10,000 kyat ($7.50) and 20,000 kyat ($15) from each truck at the Nam Poung checkpoint in Lashio town.