PNO/PNA Steps Up Forced Recruitment In Taunggyi District

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The Pa’O National Organisation, which has transformed its Pa’O National Army into a regime-controlled People’s Militia Force (PMF), is forcibly recruiting Shan youth from Taunggyi District in southern Shan State.

The PMF summoned village leaders from Hsihseng and Hopong townships in Pa’O Self-administered Zone and asked them to provide either a man or a woman for basic military training.

It told 33 villages in Hseng Lae village tract, Hsihseng Township, to compile a list of able-bodied persons and for each village to pay the PMF $16 and a basket of rice. An anonymous source from Hseng Lae told SHAN that village leaders have until 16 June to submit a list, fearing that Pa’O soldiers will otherwise abduct youths from their homes. The man learned that new recruits are expected to complete at least nine days of military training.

Check point at 4 mile Taunggyi capital of Shan State
Check point at 4 mile Taunggyi capital of Shan State

At a meeting in Hsihseng Township, the PMF told the leaders to provide around 20 youths from each village. ”They aren’t taking youths living along the eastern vehicle road. They mainly recruit Shan youths from the western vehicle road,” one man told SHAN, asking that his name be kept secret.

Others told SHAN that the PMF is also recruiting youths from Yan Kin, Loi Oun and Ganai Htong in Hopong Township.

“They’ve abducted 13 youths from Yan Kin village near Hopong town. In some villages, the youths are drawn by lot to decide whether they must attend military training. They’ve recruited both Pa’O and Shan youths,” a youth from Hopong told SHAN on condition of anonymity. He said that all those recruited are at least 18 years old and that they’re taking women as well as men.

For communities that have suffered from the pandemic and the dictatorship, losing their sons and daughters at this time of economic instability is particularly difficult. Many young people wanting to escape the forced recruitment have already fled to Thailand.

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