Seven Red Shan [Taileng] villagers were said to have been abducted by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on 11 March in Bhamo district, according to the Shan Ethnic Affairs Organisation (SEAO).
Sai Tun, a Shan youth activist organising literature courses in Bhamo, said the KIA in Mansi Township abducted the villagers on Tuesday in what was assumed to be a recruitment drive. A teacher and a member of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) are among the missing villagers.
“Around 7am on that day, Nang Sein Pwint and Nang Ae Htwe from Pansatt village were detained by the KIA on their way back from the market. Nan Sein Pwint is a Shan-language teacher in the village and Nang Ae Htwe is a SNDP member,” said Sai Tun.
He said five other villagers, two from Monghkong and three from Thanpalwe, were also abducted the same day. One of them, however, managed to convince the rebels to let him go after explaining that his brother had also been forcibly recruited.
Sai San Wai, deputy-chairman of the SEAO, said his group reached out to the KIA’s liaison officers in Myitkyina to free the villagers. He said two youths, previously nabbed by the KIA on 22 February in Shwemaw, near the Irrawaddy River confluence, were released after their parents complained at KIA liaison offices.
KIA liaison officer Dau Hka denied the recent abductions, claiming forced recruitments were a thing of the past.
“We used to do that but not anymore, not since 2003. These days we focus on public relations – we take the villagers for education trainings and then let them go home to go about their lives,” said the KIA official.
“The villagers, if they know details about these abductions, can contact our liaison office in Myitkyina to settle the problem.”
Last December, the KIA was accused of forcibly recruiting 51 villagers, including several women and two disabled children. Most of the missing persons were ethnic Red Shan, though at least four were Kachin.
Of the 26 freed, only 21 were identified by the SEAO as among the documented missing villagers. Of those 21, SEAO claimed that only four returned home after their release, the rest presumed to be held in KIA boot camps.
Red Shan make up about 100,000 of the 1.2 million population in Kachin state. The Taileng (
On 20 December, thousands of Shans gathered in Myitkyina denouncing alleged human rights violations by the KIA.