MON STATE — The Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) on Friday denied a report by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) that Tatmadaw troops murdered six female medics who had been taken captive in northern Shan State.
The TNLA reported on July 16 that the Tatmadaw killed the women after arresting them following a clash in Namkham Township early on the afternoon of July 11 that left one TNLA soldier dead.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Tatmadaw said that after the clash, its personnel discovered eight bodies and three guns at the insurgents’ position.
“As the Tatmadaw secured the area in which the clash took place, they found eight dead bodies and three guns,” the report reads.
It said the eight bodies, clad in camouflage uniforms, were those of TNLA insurgents — three men and five women — who were killed in action. The Myanmar Army buried the eight bodies at the site, according to the report.
TNLA spokesperson Major Tar Aike Kyaw on Friday told The Irrawaddy that the Myanmar Army’s account was false.
“They say five women, but six of our [female] medics were killed,” Maj Tar Aike Kyaw said. Only one man was killed, despite the Myanmar Army’s claim to have found three men, he said.
He rejected the Tatmadaw’s claim that all of the victims were killed in battle, saying the six women were murdered in captivity.
According to Maj Tar Aike Kyaw, about 15 TNLA members were traveling in two vehicles in Mann Wang village when the second car was ambushed by members of the Tatmadaw’s Infantry Battalion 301, which is under the control of Infantry Division 88.
One soldier in the second car escaped with injuries. He later reported that the Tatmadaw arrested the six medics.
In a separate statement issued Friday, the TNLA repeated its claim that six medics were killed after being taken prisoner. It said the women had been traveling with employees of a mining company when they came under fire. One of the women attempted to flee but was shot in the leg and captured along with the others. One male TNLA fighter was shot and killed on the spot, and a second male fighter was wounded after running out of ammunition but was able to escape. The second fighter reported seeing the six medics being taken away by the Myanmar Army, according to the TNLA statement. It adds that personnel from Infantry Division 301 spent two nights at the village. Local people found the women’s bodies in a ditch nearby on July 14, it adds.
According to the Tatmadaw’s statement, two of the civilian mining company employees working in Namkham Township were wounded in the clash. It alleges that the TNLA members had asked the miners for a ride in their vehicle.
The TNLA said the Myanmar Army violated international laws on the treatment of prisoners of war by murdering the six female medics, who had been providing treatment to local ethnic Ta’ang people in the township.
Maj Tar Aike Kyaw called on senior Myanmar Army officers to investigate the deaths and take action against those responsible.
Two of the women had gunshot wounds to the head, while the other four showed signs of being beaten and stabbed, he said.
“[The Myanmar Army] should not have killed the six medics; they were prisoners of war. The killing of the medics was a violation of the Geneva Conventions,” Maj Tar Aike Kyaw said.