Northern Alliance Rejects Defense Ministry’s Abduction Allegations

By Lawi Weng 14 March 2017

RANGOON — The Northern Alliance rejected a statement by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Monday that accused alliance member the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) of raping, killing, and taking hostage hotel workers during their attack on Laukkai in the Kokang region of Shan State last week.

“Many of the workers were ethnic Kokang—we were worried that the Burma Army soldiers would rape the female workers, so we sent them to a safe place,” said Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw, general secretary of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Northern Alliance spokesperson, on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defense reported that about 120 men and 150 women working at the hotel were abducted by the MNDAA.

Only 100 women and 10 men were released after being brought to Nan San, across the border in China, and the rest were forcibly recruited as soldiers, the statement said.

The MNDAA issued a statement after the attack last week, saying they had brought over 300 workers of the Pal Sein Hotel in Laukkai to Nan San.

“We explained to them the reason why we had to attack hotels, and we even provided 300 Yuan to each worker when we released them,” said the statement.

But, Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw said, “we didn’t recruit or rape anyone.”

The MoD report also asserted that a worker who refused to follow was shot dead and that a female member of staff was raped. The MNDAA also stole 300 million Yuan, according to the report.

On March 6, the MNDAA attacked the town of Laukkai and targeted businesses—including hotels—connected to the governor of Laukkai Bai Suocheng, a former MNDAA member who betrayed the group in 2009.

More than 20,000 people from Burma have crossed China’s border since then to escape the fighting, prompting Beijing to call for a ceasefire.

“There were at least 48 armed clashes with the MNDAA, resulting in the deaths of dozens of soldiers,” the Global New Light of Myanmar said on Tuesday. “Scores of citizens” were injured in the attacks, the paper added.

It did not give exact numbers of soldiers killed in what it described as area clearance operations by government troops running from March 6 to 12.

Last week, the government said five residents and five traffic policemen had been killed and twenty dead bodies discovered after the MNDAA’s March 6 initial assault on Laukkai, the capital of the northeastern region of Kokang.

Reuters contributed to this report.