A leader of a major Shan political party was allegedly arrested and tortured by the Burmese Army in Kengtung, party officials said on Wednesday.
Sai Jan, Namt Lin Mai village chairman for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), is said to have been apprehended by Burmese troops from his home on 5 May. According to Sai Lon, the SNLD eastern Salween chairman, the troops had no warrant and were not accompanied by government officials.
“We learned that Sai Jan was arrested at his home while he was sitting with a friend,” said Sai Lon, who explained that while the friend had managed to escape, Sai Jan was abducted and kept in detention overnight. According to Sai Lon, he was returned to his house at around 11am the following morning, with his “hands tied around his back and his face black and blue”.
The soldiers then searched his house and left with Sai Jan, who is now assumed to be in custody at the Kengtung military headquarters.
Sai Lon said that party officials went to the Kengtung Police station on Wednesday morning to inquire about the incident, but police denied any knowledge of the arrest.
Sai Lek, spokesperson for the SNLD, said the party denounced the behaviour of the Burmese Army, warning that such incidents could lead to distrust among the country’s many ethnic groups, who are currently negotiating a nationwide peace accord with the central government after decades of war and unrest.
“We assume [Sai Jan] is innocent, and even if he wasn’t, arrests should be conducted in accordance with the law,” he said. “We denounce the arrest of Sai Jan without a police warrant or the company of local authorities.”
The Shan State Army-South reported a similar incident this week, claiming that Burmese Army troops entered their liaison office in Kengtung without prior notice or warrant, and proceeded to search the building and surrounds, though no one was abducted in that incident.