A number of youths, including at least three Shan youths, were reportedly forcibly recruited by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State.
“They mainly recruit Ta’ang youths and have been looking for new soldiers in Lashio because some Ta’ang youths have sought shelter in the town. They do not want to join the TNLA but their name is on the list,” a man told SHAN on condition of anonymity, explaining that on the same day (11 May) they also took the Shan youths from wards 10 and 11.
Locals told SHAN that the Ta’ang soldiers used a jungle road to bypass the highway into town to avoid Burma army checkpoints on the way
“As ordinary civilians, we are afraid of all armed organisations,” the man said, “but the TNLA takes both Ta’ang and Shan youth and we fear they will come back to take more Shan people.”
The family members of the abducted Shan youths have demanded the release of their sons.
When asked about it, TNLA spokesperson Lt- Col Tar Aik Kyaw claimed he knew nothing about it. “Our troops used to recruit new soldiers in our territory.”
In early February, the TNLA sent a letter to Shan State Progress Party warning the armed group to not collect taxes from its people or recruit them as soldiers.
In recent years, its soldiers fought together against the Restoration Council of Shan State in northern Shan State.
A few months ago, TNLA soldiers reportedly stayed in the Mong Wee internally displaced persons camp in Namkham Township where they demanded rice from residents. But according to the Geneva Convention, an armed group staying with civilians in a village is a war crime.