Ethnic armed groups (EAGs) have repeatedly abducted civilians during their war for territory in Shan State. Just last week, the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) arrested 28 villagers from Panglong Township in southern Shan State and released 15 residents of Wan Kon on the same day.
According to Sai Hsu, secretary of the political party Shan Nationalities League for Democracy in Loilem Township, the victims are ordinary civilians. “Locals have told me that these people have nothing to do with any organisation. We still do not know where the SSPP has detained them nor have I been able to contact them.”
SHAN could not reach SSPP spokesperson Maj Sai Phone Harn even after several calls to his mobile phone.
According to the Tai Freedom media group, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), which is fighting the SSPP, released 24 prisoners of war on Saturday 6 August. Of these, 18 were allegedly SSPP soldiers, 5 were informants for the rival Shan armed group and one was a Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) soldier.
Additionally, every year in nearby Laikha Township, RCSS abducts civilians and forces them to join their army.
TNLA soldiers abducted Pan San villagers in Ohm Ngan village tract at 11pm on 29 July. According to locals, 30 soldiers kicked in people’s doors to seize about 20 abductees. In the process, they beat and arrested a teacher who’d filmed them taking her husband, who wasn’t on the official recruitment list. He heard that the teacher was taken to Queensaland village.
TNLA spokesperson Maj Tar Aik Kyaw told SHAN, he never heard about the woman’s alleged arrest, but confirmed that they recruited other villagers from Ohm Ngan village.
”If a family has two sons, we recruit one of them who is at least 18 years old and resides in the area we control,” he said, explaining that most of them are of Ta’ang nationalities.
The vice chair of Ta’ang’s National Education Committee also told SHAN that the teacher was not among those recently arrested.
In previous months, TNLA soldiers forcibly recruited villagers from Loi Kon in Kyaukme Township and some of the youth fled to Thailand to avoid becoming soldiers against their will.