Thousands Protest Woman's Abduction by Armed Group in Shan State

By Zarni Mann 17 September 2018

MANDALAY — Thousands of people protested in Shan State on Monday to demand that the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) release an ethnic Shan woman the armed group abducted last month.

About 10,000 locals walking down the main road of Namhkam Township carrying banners and photos of Nang Mo Hom and shouted slogans urging the TNLA to release her immediately.

“Even though there are calls from her relatives, locals and the NRPC [National Reconciliation and Peace Center], the TNLA shows no sign of releasing her. So we’ve gathered to express our feelings,” said Namhkam resident Nang Thin Thin Aye, one of the demonstrators.

Monday’s protest was the second in Namhkam calling for Nang Mo Hom’s release this month.

“It’s not only for her release. We want to show that we are living in fear, that we don’t know who is going to be kidnapped next and put on trial under their [the TNLA’s] laws,” Nang Thin Thin Aye said. “We just want the TNLA to release her. If she really broke the law, let her face trial in an official court, not theirs.”

Protesters said Nang Mo Hom’s abduction has also fueled misconceptions between the area’s ethnic Shan and Ta’ang communities and that they wanted to stem any mistrust,

“Another reason we want the TNLA to act immediately is to ease tensions between ethnic Shan and Ta’ang people, who have lived peacefully in the past. If they release her now, there will be no tension and everything will be ok,” Nang Thin Thin Aye said.

Nang Mo Hom, a mother of three, was abducted from her home in Namhkam Township on Aug. 17 at gunpoint by five TNLA soldiers. She has been held incommunicado since and her condition is unknown.

The Youth Network of Namhkam issued a statement following the abduction condemning the TNLA and demanding the woman’s release. It claims the TNLA had accused Nang Mo Hom of informing on two of its members who attempted to collect “taxes” in the area and were later shot and detained by the Myanmar army. Nang Mo Hom’s family denies that she was an informant.

The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), a local political party, also called for her immediate released and wrote to the NRPC asking it to intervene.

On Sept. 10 the NRPC called for the immediate release of Nang Mo Hom. It said the abduction was unlawful and harmed the national peace process.

Earlier this month, the TNLA said Nang Mo Hom was on trial by the armed group for allegedly obstructing its troops from performing their duties, in violation of TNLA “laws.” It did not elaborate.