Relatives of the young men from northern Shan State killed in a car after being pursued by the junta’s armed forces say they were in the wrong place at the wrong time
By Myanmar Now
Four youth killed in a car in Mandalay’s Chanmyathazi Township after being pursued by regime troops were not members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF), their family members said.
A military raid on a home in the area on Tuesday morning led to a shootout with local resistance forces, killing four members of the PDF and the arrest of eight more, according to a military announcement. The announcement also said that junta soldiers then cornered a vehicle which subsequently ran into an electrical transformer, killing the four people inside.
Myanmar Now has learned that the young men—Mai Nai Lai, Mai Chit Swe, Mai Nai Tun Kyi and Ar Tee, all in their 20s—were from Namkham and Hsipaw townships in northern Shan State and were in Mandalay for work.
Relatives of the deceased have questioned the junta’s official narrative of how the men were killed—allegedly in a car crash—and told Myanmar Now that they have been afraid to collect their bodies from the morgue, since it is guarded by troops.
The cousin of 25-year-old Mai Nai Lai said that the four men were on their way to a chicken farm in Sagaing Region when they were chased and shot at by the junta’s troops. They were not involved in the battle happening in the city at that time, he added.
“None of the four passengers had connections to the PDF. It was just bad timing that they were there when there was an ongoing clash. So they were trying to drive back and the soldiers chased them,” the cousin said.
Mai Nai Lai had aspired to start a business raising chickens, the cousin said. He had gotten married just weeks earlier, on June 6.
Twenty-four-year-old Mai Chit Swe had relocated to Mandalay in recent years after his father was shot by an armed group in Hsipaw, a relative told Myanmar Now. They sold vegetables grown in Shan State in the city.
“We heard about the deaths in the media, but we only just found out one was our family member today. They are not part of the PDF,” Mai Chit Swe’s relative said.
Another source close to the deceased said “when they saw the licence plate, they knew” that the young men killed were their family members.
“Hopefully they now know they were not part of the PDF. But the military will continue to issue statements like they did, and claim they were PDF. They’re trying to avoid responsibility,” the source said.
Mandalay PDF leader Bo Tun Tauk Naing told Myanmar Now on Tuesday that two PDF members had been killed and six were arrested after the shootout, adding that they had to abandon their office in Chanmyathazi in the clash.
He also said that the four people killed in the car were not PDF members as the military had claimed.
In an attempt to help the PDF, some locals set car tyres on fire on the roads in Mandalay on Tuesday to slow the advance of the regime’s armed forces.
At the time of reporting, the military council had continued to block entrances and exits to the city and conduct inspections and raids. Locals said armoured vehicles had been seen around the city in what some described as a “show of force.”
Original Post: Myanmar Now