The Ta’ang National Liberation Army has been accused of torture and the extrajudicial killing of a local villager in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme district last week.
According to local sources, troops from the ethnic armed group arrived in the village of Mongtat, Namtu Township, on Friday evening and began searching the home of a 54-year-old resident named Lon Hseng Sai. The TNLA soldiers reportedly found a firearm inside the house and beat up Lon Hseng Sai during an interrogation, over what the group suspected was ties to the rival ethnic armed wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S).
An elder of Mongtat village said Lon Hseng Sai, under duress from the beating, told the TNLA troops that he had assisted another armed group — the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), also known as the Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP). But his interrogators, according to the village elder, shot Lon Hseng Sai nonetheless and left him for dead, robbing him of cash and some personal belongings as well.
“They beat up Lon Hseng Sai and in the end he couldn’t take the beating anymore and told them he was helping the Shan State Army-North. But the Palaung [Ta’ang] soldiers refused to believe it — they took the 1 million kyats [$734] he made when he sold some maize in the town, his mobile phone and jewellery, and told him to go with them. They shot him multiple times as he stood up — he was hit twice in his leg and once in the arm but no one in the village dared to go check on him immediately,” said the village elder.
“The villagers later went to his house in the morning and he died around 6 a.m. after losing too much blood.”
Lon Hseng Sai’s body was taken to Namtu Hospital for an autopsy as Mongtat villagers plan to file a police report concerning his death.
The village elder also said TNLA troops, two days later on Sunday, arrived in Mongtat again and this time abducted 91 locals at the village monastery.
“Most people from the village were at the monastery as it was a full moon day,” the elder said. “The TNLA came in the monastery and detained all the men despite the abbot pleading with them not to. There were 91 detainees, ages ranging from 20 to over 70, including men working on farms outside the village.”
Among the detainees, a 79-year-old man was later released but he was reportedly so traumatised that he was unable to provide any details of the ordeal or the possible whereabouts of his fellow villagers who remained detained.
Mongtat villagers have reached out to civil society groups and local MPs as well as the SSPP to help secure the release of the abducted villagers.
The TNLA was not available for comment regarding the alleged mass abduction.
Neither the TNLA nor the SSPP is signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, while the RCSS was one of eight non-state armed groups to sign the accord with the previous government in October 2015.