Myanmar’s longest-running revolutionary group, the Karen National Union, has dismissed Major General Saw Nerdah Mya as the head of its Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO), regarding the killing of 25 people, who were alleged spies for Myanmar’s junta, in May last year.
There were heavy clashes between the KNDO and junta forces in Waw Lay in Myawaddy Township, Karen State, close to the border with Thailand, from May 31 to early June.
The KNDO was one of the first groups to fight the junta following the regime’s indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians and peaceful protesters after the February 1 coup.
During the fighting on May 31, the KNDO took 47 people – 31 men, six women and 10 children – from a bridge construction site. It released six men and all the women and children by June 9 but 25 men, aged between 18 and 52, were later found dead.
Saw Nerdah Mya said the victims were not civilians but personnel from infantry and engineering units, sent to collect intelligence about the armed group.
The regime on June 13 accused the KNDO of killing civilians and urged the KNU to explain the deaths.
A KNDO spokesman told the media at the time that some of the group were executed and others were killed by junta shelling. He said there was proof those executed “were not road workers, as they had military uniforms, badges and military equipment”, which the KNDO seized.
On July 5, the KNU temporarily suspended Saw Nerdah Mya and another officer, Captain Saw Bar Wah, while the incident was investigated.
On Monday, the KNU’s defense department announced that the two officers were being permanently dismissed and Major General Saw Shee Lay would be appointed as the KNDO’s commander.
The KNU’s vice-chairman Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win told The Irrawaddy that a commission had completed its investigation and the decision had been taken under the KNU’s laws.
Saw Nerdah Mya, son of late KNU chairman General Bo Mya, was unavailable for comment.
In July he condemned his suspension, saying it appeared the KNU was trying to appease the regime.
The KNU’s armed wings, the Karen National Liberation Army and KNDO, have been fighting the junta in Myawaddy and nearby Kawkareik since mid-December.
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