Ethnic Armed Groups Reject Burma Army Accusations of Killings, Abuses

By Khin Oo Tha 14 February 2017

RANGOON — Ethnic armed groups operating in Kachin State and northern Shan State have rejected Burma Army claims that they have committed atrocities against civilians and accuse military chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing of making false claims to hide the Burma Army’s own abuses.

On Saturday, the commander-in-chief’s office claimed in a Facebook post that ethnic armed groups had killed 38 civilians and wounded 137 throughout 2016.

The Facebook post said that ethnic armed groups had attacked and killed civilians for no reason, planted land mines, abducted civilians, extorted money, conscripted civilian soldiers, and destroyed buildings and vehicles.

Maj. Naw Bu, a KIA information officer, called the Burma Army’s allegations baseless.

“I have read the statements released by the Tatmadaw,” he said. “They are unfounded allegations. The Tatmadaw release these statements because they want to conceal the crimes they have committed.”

The commander-in-chief’s office’s Saturday statement said the KIA had killed four innocent civilians, conducted nine harassing attacks, detonated 11 mines, planted another 54 mines, conscripted soldiers, and extorted money in Kachin State.

Maj. Naw Bu denied these accusations. He said the KIA did not plant mines in civilian areas, but only in places where military columns were active.

In northern Shan State, the commander-in-chief’s office blamed the TNLA for two civilian deaths, six harassing attacks, two mine explosions, and arson attacks. It also blamed the AA for three mine explosions in Arakan State.

TNLA information officer Mai Ai Kyaw denied all the allegations. He said the Burma Army was squarely to blame for civilian deaths and injuries.

Mai Ai Kyaw also said he had evidence that the Burma Army committed attacks, kidnapped, raped, and tortured civilians in the conflict zones.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.