Pro-Junta Militia Extorting and Looting Locals in Upper Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 6 June 2022

Members of the pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia have been extorting money and looting from villagers in Mingon (b) Village in Sagaing Region’s Kantbalu Township, according to locals.

Around 40 Pyu Saw Htee militia members, led by three regime soldiers, extorted money from supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the village. Some 58 households out of over 200 were affected. The village is a Pyu Saw Htee stronghold.

“They extorted 100,000 kyats each from households who voted for the NLD [in the 2020 general election]. They asked for 500,000 kyats from some households whose family members they dislike. They have often asked for 5,000 kyats or so from every household,” a resident told The Irrawaddy.

The Pyu Saw Htee group runs a checkpoint outside the village. Militia members stay in a house in the village that they have fortified with sandbags, according to villagers.

Mingon (b) Village NLD activist U Nyunt Win Naing said that Pyu Saw Htee militia vandalized his house and stole two of his cows.

“I opened an NLD office at my house. They looted and smashed things in my house. I am already in hiding, so I don’t know the extent of the damage. My niece and her husband were taking care of my house. Pyu Saw Htee militia threatened them to leave. They grabbed a pair of my cows and sold them,” he said.

Over 100 villagers have fled their homes because of the activities of the Pyu Saw Htee.

“People have fled because junta soldiers were searching houses in response to trumped-up reports that villagers were financing a People’s Defense Force (PDF). They are frightened because some of those detained were killed,” said a resident.

Villagers said that they have not been able to irrigate their paddy fields for the final phase of planting before the rice harvest because of threats from militia members.

“The Pyu Saw Htee said farmers are not allowed to harvest, meaning that they will confiscate the harvest. They should not do that to farmers who live in the same village as them, and some of the farmers are related to them. Most of the village residents do not engage in political activities and there is no PDF here,” said U Nyunt Win Naing.

Residents claimed that the Pyu Saw Htee killed three villagers, and that their bodies were not returned.

“They are doing as they please. They are deliberately bullying people out of personal grudges, using the political partisanship as a pretext. The military has not carried out raids or torched houses. But Pyu Saw Htee have torched and seized the paddy fields of farmers. They killed a couple last month, and also abducted U Shan Maung and killed him,” said one resident.

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