Case of Missing Ta’ang Party Leaders in Shan State Still Unresolved

By Moe Myint 6 July 2015

RANGOON — More than two weeks since the president and secretary of a local branch of the Ta’ang National Party in Shan State’s Mongkaung Township were first reported missing, party officials have suggested they know where the men are being held amid ongoing denials from an ethnic armed group accused of involvement.

The Ta’ang National Party’s local branch office president Mai Aung Khan and secretary Mai Kyam Sar went missing on June 20, with party officials and Mongkaung locals accusing the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) of abducting the two men.

A senior member of the Ta’ang National Party’s Mongkaung branch, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Irrawaddy on June 22 that the RCSS was suspected because the party had received threatening letters from the Shan armed group.

One such letter was reportedly received the day before the party opened its branch office in Mongkaung on June 4.

The party’s joint secretary Mai Win Htoo told The Irrawaddy on Sunday there was no ill-feeling between the armed group and local party leaders, but suggested the alleged abduction was tied to the upcoming national election, slated for November.

“We know our men are still alive and where they are, but we don’t want to give any information to the media because our people are in a dangerous situation,” he said.

Deputy secretary of the Ta’ang National Party, Mai Ohn Khine, said the party had tried to reach out to RCSS representatives without success.

“I can’t imagine why they arrested our people. I don’t know what to do now,” Mai Ohn Khine said.

When contacted by The Irrawaddy on Monday, RCSS spokesperson Col. Sai La maintained the armed group had no information on the alleged abductees.

He said the RCSS had acted on the Ta’ang National Party’s original request to investigate the matter, but the party had not been in contact again. Col. Sai La said it was difficult to confirm whether any RCSS members were involved.

The name of a battalion commander provided by the Ta’ang party did not match anyone serving in the Mongkaung area, according to the spokesperson.

“If such events occurred in our territory, we would resolve the matter peacefully. Negotiation is the best solution; there’s no other way to solve the problem and we are ready to discuss,” he said.

The Ta’ang National Party contested Burma’s 2010 general election, wining one seat in the Upper and Lower houses of parliament respectively, as well as four seats in the Shan State legislature. The party is preparing to compete in the upcoming national election but has not specified whether it would contest in Mongkaung Township.

Additional reporting by Nyein Nyein.