Ta'ang Teen Shot Dead by Military in Shan State, Rights Group Says

By Lawi Weng 21 February 2019

Mon State — The Myanmar military shot dead an ethnic Ta’ang teenager in northern Shan State on Monday night and compensated the family after apologizing, according to the Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO), a local rights group.

Mai Aike Zaup, 17, was returning home from a pagoda festival with a friend when they met a group of soldiers at the entrance of their village of Okk Mann Lee, in Kutkai Township, at about 9 p.m., according to TWO researcher Lway Che Sa Nga. She said her group spoke with village officials and the teen’s family but no eyewitnesses to the shooting itself.

According to the family and village officials, she said, the soldiers told them they opened fire as the teens were running away from them, thinking they might be members of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic armed group active in the area. She said Mai Aike Zaup was hit several times and died at a local hospital, and that his friend escaped.

“When they left the village, there was no army. But they met the army on their way back. They were afraid of the army, so they tried to run away,” Lway Che Sa Nga told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

She said the soldiers were from the military’s Light Infantry Battalion 361, under Military Operation Command 10. Mai Aike Zaup’s family said the soldiers apologized for killing their son and paid them 2 million kyat ($1,311) in compensation.

Lway Che Sa Nga said TWO was considering how to take legal action against the military for the teen’s death but would consult with the family on its wishes.

A person who answered the phone of Col. Tun Nay Win, a spokesman for the military in northern Shan State, said the colonel was in a meeting and could not comment.

The military has been fighting with a number of ethnic armed groups in the area for several years, including the TNLA, and is accused of numerous related human rights abuses.

It late December the military announced a unilateral four-month ceasefire in the north and east of Myanmar, but there have been some clashes since. The TNLA says it fought with military soldiers on Monday in Namkham Township, also in northern Shan State.