The Karen National Union (KNU) has dismissed both the Commander of the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), Brig. Gen. Nerdah Mya, and his colleague Lieutenant Saw Ba Wah, the KNU’s Defense Department announced on Jan. 17.
The announcement comes after the KNU had launched investigations into the case of the massacre of 25 men whose bodies were discovered on June 10 in Kane Lay village, Kayin State. The Burmese military alleged that, before the finding, the men had been taken into KNDO custody.
A member of the KNU Central Committee said that a decision had been made during the committee’s 35th meeting.
“It was decided by the EC as it wasn’t decided by chairman or secretary only. They didn’t show up even when we called out for investigation,” the member said.
The KNU Defense Department previously said that both seniors had been temporarily suspended following a July 5 meeting of the Central Committee.
Later, the Central Committee says it approached Gen. Nerdah Mya and requested he cooperate with the investigation, but that he did not appear at hearings.
“They posted that case online. If not, we would show our kindness to him. But he didn’t show up when we called him for investigation. We inferred that his non-appearance meant that he had no respect for the law or the Central Committee. Do we need to stand beside someone who doesn’t respect his work with our organization?”
In July, Gen. Saw Nerdah Mya responded by stating that he did not accept his temporary suspension.
According to the KNU Central Committee’s announcement, Deputy-Commander-in-Chief, Saw Shi Lay, will now act as new chief of the KNDO.
On June 14, the junta’s Myawaddy News television station reported that around 30 KNDO troops under the lead of Saw Ba Wah had kidnapped 47 road workers from the Oh Ho Bridge worksite on the Kane Lay-Maw Khee Highway in Kayin State’s Myawaddy district on May 31. The KNDO had been leading operations against the Burma Army in the region since May 31.
According to the military’s report, a total of 31 men, six women, and ten children were amongst those taken. On June 1 and 9, state media announced that 22 people had been released, but that 25 remained in KNDO captivity.
Troops later reported the discovery of 25 male corpses, allegedly found with hands tied behind their backs, in the Waw Lay area of Myawaddy. The military’s Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper published photos of the dead.
Although not disputing the killings, the KNDO said on June 20 that the 25 men had not been civilian road workers but military intelligence officers tasked with monitoring KNU base camps.
On June 16, the KNU had launched its own case after missives were sent from the military demanding an investigation.