Naga Group Leaders Charged with Unlawful Association

By The Irrawaddy 28 March 2019

Police in Khamti, Sagaing Region on Tuesday charged five leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang with violating Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act. The five were detained by the Myanmar military earlier this month following a January raid on the group’s headquarters in Taga.

NSCN-K Peace Committee leader U An Kam, spokesman U Kyaw Wan Sein, official U Saw Htein and officers Major-General Aung Mai and Lieutenant-Colonel Aung Sai were arrested during the March 9 raid on their liaison office in Khamti Township. They had come into town to attend a meeting with Naga civil society groups, according to sources close to the NSCN-K.

‘They came to join the meeting organized by the Naga Cultural Central Committee on March 8, three weeks ago, to discuss peace in the Naga region, but were arrested the following day; it should not have happened that way,” said a Naga civil society member who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The person told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the “NSCN-K leaders were transferred to police custody on March 26 and informed they were to be charged under the Unlawful Association Act.”

The Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) seized the NSCN-K’s headquarters in late January. Most of the armed group’s troops withdrew from the base, but a few Naga leaders remained in the area to try and resolve the tensions.

At a press conference in Naypyitaw on Monday, Tatmadaw spokesman Major-General Soe Naing Oo said that since it occupied the headquarters, the military had arrested 36 people in NSCN-K areas and discovered one body. The Tatmadaw repeated its stance that it would not tolerate rebel groups staging hostile activities against Myanmar’s neighbors, in this case India, from its territory.

The Tatmadaw accused the NSCN-K of helping Assam and Manipur (known locally as ethnic Kathae/Meiti) rebels in their fight against India by sheltering and allowing them to run military training schools. The Tatmadaw accused the NSCN-K of violating the bilateral ceasefire agreement it signed on April 9, 2012 with the Sagaing regional government.

Last month, U Kyaw Wan Sein, NSCN-K spokesman and Central Executive Member, told The Irrawaddy the group did not violate the bilateral ceasefire and urged the Tatmadaw to leave its area.

Naga civil society members, including elders and members of the Council of Naga Affairs, sent a letter to the National Reconciliation and Peace Center seeking its intervention.

U Zaw Htay, spokesman for the Myanmar President’s Office and the Myanmar State Counselor’s Office, which oversee peace negotiations, said on Thursday he could not comment on the charging of the NSCN-K leaders over the phone. He said the government’s response would be announced at a press briefing expected on Friday at the Presidential Palace.