The Pa’O National Organisation (PNO), the political wing of the Pa-O National Army, which has transformed itself into a People’s Militia Force (PMF) allied with the military regime, is recruiting male and female youths and extorting money from residents of Mong Pawn Township in southern Shan State.
A local who requested anonymity said the PNO/PNA has collected a list of villages in the township and the names of men and women in ward 2 of Mong Pawn town, where many Shan, Pa’O and other groups reside.
“They said one person from each family under the age of 45 must attend basic military training,” the man told SHAN.
The PNO/PNA soldiers have instructed village and ward headmen to collect money from each family in Mong Pawn town to pay for military training, which hasn’t yet started.
“We’ve already given the village head $19. We didn’t have enough money so we’d to borrow it,” said a local Shan who asked that his name not be published. He said that in some cases the soldiers are collecting the money from the villages themselves.
According to locals, this is the first time the PNO/PNA has forcibly recruited soldiers in Mong Pawn Township and taken money from them. Karenni resistance groups have accused the group of joining the Burma Army during its offensives along the Karenni-Shan border.
The communities, still suffering from the pandemic and the political instability caused by the dictatorship, can’t lose their sons and daughters. Many young people from the region have already fled to Thailand to avoid ending up as PNO/PNA soldiers.
The PNO/PNA is also recruiting new soldiers and taking money from civilians in Hopon and Hsihseng townships in southern Shan State.