The Irrawaddy

Group Demands TNLA Release Shan Woman Taken from Her Home in Namkham

MON STATE — A youth group based in Namkham Township in northern Shan State has condemned the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)’s arrest last week of an ethnic Shan woman and demanded her release.

In a statement released Sunday, the Namkham Youth Network said the TNLA arrested Nang Moe Hom at gunpoint at her home on Aug. 17 and took her away after destroying a video camera belonging to her.

The youth group claims the TNLA earlier accused the woman of informing on two of its members who attempted to collect taxes in the area and were later shot and detained by the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw). The TNLA has acknowledged detaining the woman, without giving a reason. The woman’s family denies she ever informed on TNLA members to the Tatmadaw.

Her family was shocked and distressed by the incident, the statement said.

The Namkham Youth Network condemned the TNLA’s action and accused the group of violating the woman’s human rights. It warned that the incident could hinder the implementation of the peace process in the country and even stoke conflict between the Shan and Ta’ang communities.

TNLA spokesman Major Tar Aike Kyaw confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the group detained Nang Moe Hom, but said the arrest was justified as she had violated the group’s laws. “All I can say is that she violated our law. Therefore, we detained her,” he said.

He did not offer any details about what law she had broken. However, Namkham Youth Network spokesperson Sai Thein Shwe said that prior to her arrest the TNLA sent her a letter accusing her of being an informant for the Myanmar Army after two of the ethnic organization’s members were detained after collecting taxes from her house last year.

In July 2017, the Myanmar Army issued a statement reporting that its personnel had shot and arrested two members of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) suspected of extorting money from local businesses in Namkham Township.

The woman’s relatives denied the TNLA’s accusation. They said their family includes children and they would never put their security at risk by complaining to the Myanmar Army about having to pay taxes to the group.

Maj. Tar Aike Kyaw said the TNLA was holding the woman in a secure location and the family did not need to worry for her safety, he said, adding that the group planned to take legal action against her. “We will let her family visit her once her trial begins,” he said.

It is unclear what punishment Nang Moe Hom faces for her alleged crime.

The TNLA is a member of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed organizations. It is active in northern Shan, including Namkham Township, the scene of frequent fighting between the TNLA and the Myanmar Army.