Two police officers in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township went missing on Monday in an area that has seen fierce clashes between the Burma Army and an alliance of four ethnic armed groups since Nov. 20.
Police staff Sgt Myint Htay and police Cpl Lin Htet failed to return to the Nang Pha Kar village police outpost on Monday after escorting a detainee charged under the Unlawful Association Act from Kutkai Township police station to the township court for trial, according to the Muse District administration office.
When the two officers had not returned by 7 p.m., local security forces searched the area and at around 10:25 p.m. discovered the car used to transport the detainee near Kaung Lein village, according to a State Counselor’s Office Information Committee report.
Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act sets out prison terms of between two and three years for being a member of an “unlawful association,” making contributions to one, or assisting its operations.
It was used during decades of military junta rule to detain those linked to rebel groups and is still used against those associated with ethnic armed groups.
It is not clear whether the accused had any affiliation with the armed ethnic groups fighting in the area—the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Arakan Army (AA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army. The KIA and AA are listed as unlawful associations.
The four armed groups—collectively named the Northern Alliance—attacked Burma Army posts on Nov. 20 in Muse Township’s 105th Mile as well as in the townships of Mong Ko, Pang Sai, Namkham and Kutkai, all in northern Shan State.