Two ethnic Shan villagers were detained and tortured by Burmese army troops believing them to be rebel soldiers, according to a local civil society group.
According to the Bhamo-based Civilian Protection Monitoring Group (CPMG), Sai Yee Lin, 23, and Sai Maung Sam, 44, were on their way to a court in Kachin State’s Mansi Township on the afternoon of 19 November when Burmese soldiers picked them up. The men say they were then tortured under suspicion of belonging to the outlawed Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
“The two were heading to Mansi on a bike via Inbaja and Janmai village routes when they first encountered a group of KIA soldiers on the road. As the rebels didn’t say anything to them, they drove on. About two miles from the town, they ran into Burmese army troops believed to be from the 438th Infantry Battalion,” said CPMG coordinator Aung Myo San.
“The soldiers fired four to five warning shots. The two were scared and kept driving until they were stopped by more troops ahead on the road,” he continued.
“The troops nabbed them and tortured them for the whole night, accusing them of being KIA members. They apparently tired them up by the neck and them in the head with rifle butts, and stabbed them.”
“In the morning, the soldiers separated them and attempted to force them to confess to being KIA members by beating them and telling each man that they had killed the other,” he said.
Aung Myo added that the soldiers, after failing to extract any information about the KIA from the two men, transferred them to the Mansi police the following day. The soldiers reportedly instructed Sai Yee Lin and Sai Maung Sam to wash blood off their faces before taking them blindfolded to town.
The two were released by Mansi police soon after, but summoned for questioning by another army unit under the 21st Military Operations Command.
The pair said they were too frightened to return to local police to file a complaint, instead telling their story to CPMG. Photos of the men provided by CPMG show extensive bruising and lacerations to their faces, necks and torsos.
According to the group, both the Burmese army and the KIA routinely seize locals under suspicion of acting as informants to either side.