Viral Video Renews Allegations of Burma Army Abuses

By Lawi Weng 30 May 2017

A viral video that appears to show members of the Burma Army beating three civilians surfaced over the weekend and called into question ongoing allegations of military abuse.

Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw claimed the footage was from an incident that occurred in June 2015. He said a TNLA troop member was detained in Nam Hpat Kar village tract in Kutkai Township, northern Shan State.

“They arrested one of our troop members and then began to torture other villagers,” said Brig-Gen Tar Phone Kyaw.

The footage showed several armed men beating and kicking three men as at least six unidentified men were handcuffed and questioned.

It also showed soldiers kicking men in the face, holding a machete to a man’s throat and asking where the guns were hidden.

Some of the handcuffed men were questioned as to whether they belonged to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

It is not known why the video was released at this time, or by whom.

Human rights groups and Western governments have accused the Burma Army of detaining, torturing and murdering civilians accused of supporting rebel groups. Rights groups called on the government to investigate the video.

The TNLA has reported numerous abuses amid fighting in the north between the TNLA and security forces. Locals say rights abuses are not uncommon in conflict-torn Shan State. In 2016, a court martial found seven soldiers guilty of killing five civilians in Shan State’s Mong Yaw village.

Burma Army soldiers also face widespread allegations of abuse following “security clearance operations” in Arakan State that began in Oct. 2016.

This video has surfaced as the second session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference concludes. Ethnic armed groups, the Burma Army, and government representatives gathered for peace talks as fighting continues across the country.