YANGON — The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) says it has released an ethnic Shan woman it detained nearly two months ago for allegedly informing on two of its fighters who were extorting money from business owners in Shan State.
TNLA spokesman Mai Aik Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that Nang Mo Hom was released on Monday.
Nang Mo Hom, a mother of three, was abducted at gunpoint by TNLA fighters from her home in Namhkam Township in northern Shan on Aug. 17.
The ethnic armed group accused her of obstructing its fighters from collecting customs duties and claimed that information she provided the Myanmar military resulted in the death of one of the fighters in July 2017. It put her on trial in its own court and sentenced her to three years in prison on Oct. 5.
Nang Mo Hom’s relatives denied that she was an informant.
In a statement on Monday signed by the TNLA chairman, the group said it agreed to release Nang Mo Hom at the request of the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) for the sake of maintaining good relations between the Shan and Ta’ang communities. It said negotiations were mediated by the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, an alliance of seven ethnic armed groups that both are members of.
“Her family members came when she was released. We have handed her over to her family,” Mai Aik Kyaw said.
On its official Facebook page, the TNLA said it handed Nang Mo Hom over to a SSPP/SSA liaison officer at 12 p.m. and that her brother-in-law, uncle and aunt were there.
Sai Thein Shwe, a member of the Namkham Youth Network, which had been lobbying for Nang Mo Hom’s release, said he had yet to confirm the handover.
“[The TNLA] said it would hand her over to the SSPP so it could hand her over to her family, but I still can’t get in contact with the SSPP. I heard that a press conference will be held when she arrives at the SSPP headquarters tomorrow, but I don’t know the details,” he said.
Several groups had been calling for Nang Mo Hom’s release since she was abducted, including the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, and the Namkham Youth Network.
On Sept. 17, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Namkham to demand her freedom.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.