Locals Claim Myanmar Military Kills Civilian, Injures Two as Fighting Intensifies in Shan State

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 1 July 2020

Kyaukme, Shan State—Myanmar military troops allegedly shot and killed a man and injured two others in Pan Kin Village, Kyaukme Township in northern Shan State on Sunday. A spokesman for the military said they were not aware of the civilian casualties.

The civilians were shot during fighting between the military and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) as tensions between the two spiked after the ethnic armed group burned a cache of illegal drugs last Friday in commemoration of International Anti-Narcotics Day.

The military and the RCSS fought last Thursday and intermittently from Saturday until Monday, pushing more than 700 villagers from 10 villages in Kyaukme to flee their homes.

The villagers were taking shelter Wednesday in monasteries in Panlok, Naung Pain and Naung Kan villages in Kyauk Mae. The fighting stopped on Tuesday but the villagers said they still don’t dare to go back to their homes.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he was not aware the military had killed a civilian.

“I don’t know about the civilian death in Kyaukme. But there were clashes for about 15 minutes [between the military troops and] about 25 RCSS  troops at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.”

Lone Hsu, in his 60s, died from bullet wounds in his chest and back from the shooting, according to U Sai Maung, a relative of his from Ekkee village.

The military column in the area forced U Sai Maung, 67, to be a guide when the shooting happened.

He told The Irrawaddy his hands were tied behind his back as he was forced to be a guide for the military column on Sunday morning. He was then beaten and left unconscious on the road, later rescued by a monk from Panlok.

U Sai Maung is currently being treated for his injures at Kyaukme Township Hospital.

“They told me to guide them on the way and I did, but they beat me. Why? I am hurt and feeling dizzy,” he said.

A 55-year-old woman, Daw Nang Moon Seng, was also injured and is currently getting treatment in Naung Pain Village in Kyaukme.

She told The Irrawaddy that she was in her home when the military column was shooting. “I ran with my wounds without realizing I got hit,” she told The Irrawaddy

Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said he was not aware of a civilian being forced to serve as a guide for military troops and then beaten.

U Sai Tun Win, a Shan State parliamentarian from Kyaukme constituency, told The Irrawaddy that the military also forced some local people to serve as porters this weekend but later released them after local politicians intervened.

He said he and others will raise the cases of civilian deaths and abuses.

The recent clashed in Kyaukme broke out despite the military’s announcement of a ceasefire from May 10 to Aug. 30. The military said the ceasefire was necessary in order to effectively prevent, protect and contain the coronavirus as the country is facing a global health crisis.

Sai Ohm Khur, lieutenant colonel and spokesman of the RCSS, said the ethnic armed group had informed the military last Thursday about their planned troop movements, in advance of the Anti-Narcotics Day event on Friday.

He said the RCSS informed the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, that it should reduce its troop movements, as the ethnic armed group would be in the area for the event and the RCSS wanted to avoid confrontation, but that if the Tatmadaw continued their troop movements in the area, fighting would be inevitable.

He said clashes broke out on Saturday when RCSS troops were on their way back from Friday’s event and that clashes broke out the following day because more than 100 Tatmadaw troops entered RCSS areas.

He also said that the killing and injuries in Pan Kin Village happened because the military was shooting, and not during an exchange of fire between the two sides.

In regards to the fighting, the Tatmadaw spokesman accused the RCSS of crossing into Tatmadaw territories—an accusation which the RCSS rejects, as they are based in southern Shan State, and not in Kyaukme or other areas of northern Shan.

Regarding the clashes with the RCSS troops, both sides said they will negotiate through the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC), a mechanism to resolve complaints and disputes among the ethnic armed groups who signed the nationwide ceasefire agreements (NCA) and the military.

The RCSS signed the NCA in October 2015, together with seven other ethnic armed groups.

Translated by Nyein Nyein. 

You may also like these stories:

Local Officials Resign En Masse in Myanmar’s Conflict-Torn Rakhine State

KIA Warns Civilians Fighting with Myanmar Military Could Erupt Anytime