Myanmar Military Claims its Investigators Attacked in Shan State

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 17 July 2020

Yangon — Myanmar’s military says Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) troops opened fire five times on military investigators studying the death of a civilian in Kyaukme Township in northern Shan State.

The investigation team came to Kyaukme in response to allegations by residents that Myanmar’s military killed a civilian and injured two others in Pan Kin Village during fighting with the RCSS on June 29. On July 10, Kyaukme residents staged a protest against the shooting, calling for justice to be served.

“There was a protest. And there were allegations of a killing. But why did [the RCSS] carry out surprise attacks on the investigation team which went to the scene to find the truth? They attacked because they are dishonest,” said Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun of the military-run Tatmadaw True News Information Team.

The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services said the investigation team consisted of police and was led by a senior military officer. The RCSS opened fire two times on Tuesday and three times on Wednesday to disrupt the investigation.

On Monday, 36 Shan civil society organizations released a joint statement calling on Myanmar’s military to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Four parliamentarians representing Kyaukme Township in the Shan State and Union parliaments filed complaints with the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, the President’s Office and the National Reconciliation and Peace Center, asking them to investigate the killing.

More than 10,000 residents also took part in a protest march against the alleged military killing.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact the RCSS. Tai Freedom, a media outlet run by the RCSS, said the military and the RCSS engaged in fighting near Kone Nyaung Village in Kyaukme Township on Tuesday. It did not respond to military allegations that RCSS troops opened fire on the investigation team.

The team arrived in Kyaukme on Monday, said Shan State lawmaker U Sai Tun Win of Kyaukme Township. Villagers along the road claimed that troops fired warning shots along the road to Pan Kin while escorting the investigators.

“We don’t know which side shot first as we did not witness it. Most villagers have fled. The investigation team is now in Pan Kin Village,” said U Sai Tun Win.

Since renewed clashes broke out with the RCSS on June 27, over 700 civilians from more than 10 villages in Kyaukme Township have fled their homes for monasteries and camps.

The Tatmadaw (military) refused the parliamentarians’ request that the investigation be carried out in the presence of lawmakers and the media, said U Sai Tun Win.

“We went [to meet the investigation team]. We said we would listen to their investigation as the representatives of the people. But if we are not allowed to do so, then we have no responsibility. It is up to them and we have nothing to do with it,” he said.

There have been sporadic clashes with the RCSS although it signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) under the previous government in October 2015.

The NCA requires the signatories and military to resolve armed conflict through negotiations at the ceasefire joint monitoring committees (JMC). The military and RCSS, however, have not yet been able to resolve June’s clashes at the JMC.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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