RANGOON — Two members of the Tai-Leng Nationalities Development Party (TNDP) were shot and killed in separate incidents in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township last week, the party’s chairperson Sai Htay Aung told reporters Tuesday at a press conference in Rangoon.
Sai Htay Aung said that although his party could not definitively prove who was behind the killings, they had some evidence to suggest members of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) may be involved.
On Oct. 5, TNDP party member Sai Htun Lwin was shot five times after two men came to his home in Nant Maw village in jade-rich Hpakant Township.
The shooting occurred in the presence of the murdered man’s younger brother, Thant Zin Oo, who attended Tuesday’s press conference. He told reporters one of the assailants had also pointed a gun at him.
“I begged them to let me go,” Thant Zin Oo said.
According to Sai Htay Aung, members of the KIA had sent a threatening letter to Sai Htun Lwin before he was killed. He accused the armed group of extortion and described both killings as “political.”
“The government arrests ethnic Tai-Leng [also known as Shan Ni, or Red Shan] people when they give extortion money to rebel groups. But if they refuse to give protection money to the rebel groups, they may be brutally murdered,” Sai Htay Aung said.
On Oct. 6, the party’s executive committee member in Hpakant, Kan Set, was shot dead in his car, according to Khin Maung Lwin, a TNDP candidate who is contesting an Upper House in Hpakant in the upcoming general election.
Following the two incidents, the party has postponed political rallies in several villages.
Khin Maung Lwin expressed concern that locals were frightened to be seen in association with the party and may not attend future rallies.
The party will contest 54 seats across Union and regional parliaments in the election—11 in the Lower House, 12 in the Upper House and 31 across Kachin State and Sagaing Division legislatures.
Hpakant Township police station confirmed the twin homicides on Tuesday but declined to comment in detail.