State Broadcaster Staff Kidnapped in Muse, Still Missing

By Nobel Zaw 18 February 2015

RANGOON — A technician for a government-run broadcast station is still missing four days after he was abducted by unknown masked assailants in eastern Burma, according to a government official and a colleague.

Aung Zaw Tun, around 40 years of age, worked as technician-3 of Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) at a station in Muse district, northern Shan State. He had been employed by the company since 1996.

Three men abducted Aung Zaw Tun from his home on Saturday night and he has not been seen or heard from since.

“We don’t exactly know [who kidnapped him]. We heard one armed group was related to this case,” Minister of Information Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

He said that the man’s village, Mone Paw in Moe Gone Township, is located on the western side of the Salween River, near the border with Kokang Special Region.

MRTV Director General Tint Swe confirmed several details of the incident. He said that local administrators are still searching for the missing man in cooperation with the Burma Army.

Saturday’s kidnapping is believed to be the first time a member of the government’s broadcasting staff was abducted. MRTV Chief Engineer Hlaing Moe told The Irrawaddy that he “never heard of that kind of thing happening to our staff in rural areas.”

Staff from all of Muse district’s seven relay broadcast stations have been transported to Muse town for to ensure their safety.

Northern Shan State has been a hotbed of military activity in recent weeks. Tensions have been high in the area around Muse since late January, when two ethnic Kachin women were brutally killed and possibly raped in Shan State’s Kutkai Township.

A government investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

On Feb. 9, devastating clashes broke out between the Burma Army and an ethnic Kokang rebel group known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) along the Burma-China border.

Most of the fighting took place in the former Kokang stronghold of Laukkai, the administrative capital of the Kokang Special Region. At least 47 Burmese soldiers and 26 rebel troops have died in the ensuing conflict, according to state media.

Thousands of civilians have fled to nearby towns or across the border into Yunnan, China.

The government announced a state of emergency and martial law throughout the Kokang region on Tuesday.

Additional reporting contributed by Nyein Nyein.