Shan Armed Group Claims Military Warned Locals of Arrest For Association

By Lawi Weng & Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 5 November 2018

YANGON/Mon State — The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) claims that the Myanmar military last week warned ethnic Shan living in northern Shan State that they could be arrested under the Unlawful Associations Act if they interact with the armed group.

The RCSS first made the claim via its media outlet, Tai Freedom.

It reported that officers from Military Operation Command No. 1, based in Kyaukme Township, called residents from four township quarters with large Shan populations — Mong Tin, Mang Khar, Sakandar and Naung Bein — to a meeting on Wednesday to issue the warning

Colonel Sai Oo, a spokesman for the RCSS, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that he could not understand why the military would make such a threat and that the group would contact the command center to find out.

“The RCSS is a legal organization and it is not unofficial anymore. They should not threaten our local people,” he said.

Sai Tun Win, who represents Kyaukme in the state legislature, told The Irrawaddy that he had heard that the military had called a meeting with the area’s Shan residents but did not know the details.

He said residents live in constant fear of the military, RCSS and other armed groups active in the area.

“Our people have to be afraid of every armed group, including the Tatmadaw [military]. They have to provide them with food every time those armed groups ask for it because they are afraid,” he said.

When the RCSS signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015, the government announced that its members would no longer be subject to the Unlawful Associations Act, meaning anyone could make contact with the ethnic armed group without fear of arrest.

But the two have periodically clashed over territory, and tensions between the RCSS and military have been on the rise lately.

Last week the RCSS said it would no longer attend every single meeting of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee after accusing the military of serial violations and the committee of not following the rules.