Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Civilians Demand Protection from TNLA Kidnappings

By Hset Paing Toe 21 December 2020

Naypyitaw — Mogoke Township residents in Mandalay Region have protested against alleged extortions by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Over 30 protesters in Mogoke on Saturday held placards reading “Stop TNLA and other insurgents breaking the law” and “Stop making death threats for money”.

The protest was organized by 10 civil society organizations, including the township Sangha authority, in collaboration with community leaders.

Several business owners have recently been kidnapped in Mogoke by the TNLA. Most of the victims paid ransoms out of fear of being killed or seized a second time.

One of the protest organizers, U Soe Myint, said the authorities did not give permission for the protest, citing the risks of COVID-19.

“Mogoke is not experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. I don’t understand why the regional authorities did not allow the protest. Last night [Friday], someone received a telephone threat. They said they would blow up his house if they don’t get paid. These threats continue,” said U Soe Myint.

He said the protest would have been larger if the authorities had granted permission.

Protesters called on the TNLA to release detainees and stop its coercion while demanding increased security in Mogoke from the authorities.

Sanpya Bakery owner and gems merchant U Kyaw Win, a prominent Mogoke figure, who was abducted from his house on Dec. 4, remains in captivity.

Extortions and kidnappings by the TNLA have risen since June. The armed group reportedly has fixed amounts demanded from people, depending on their perceived wealth.

Residents normally pay up out of fear of being killed, said a vendor, who does not want to be named.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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