Two villagers abducted by the military from Pekhon die in junta custody

December 23rd, 2021  •  Author:   U Maung Yoe and U Soe Tint (Pekon Township)  •  3 minute read
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A photo of the 19 villagers from Shwepyiaye village being taken by the military on October 27 (Supplied)

The villagers were among 19 residents of a southern Shan State village who were arrested by the military months earlier 

By Myanmar Now

On Tuesday, locals from Shwepyiaye village in southern Shan State’s Pekhon Township learned that two of 19 residents arrested by the military two months ago had died.

The victims had reportedly been held at the No. 1 Police Station in Taunggyi since October 27, when they were taken. The deceased were identified as Maung Yoe, 67, and Soe Tint, 49, according to a local who cited an inside source.

“We didn’t even get their bodies back. They didn’t even notify us of their deaths. We had to inquire about them ourselves,” said the Pekhon local, who wanted to remain anonymous.

The 19 villagers were abducted the day after military and local resistance forces clashed near Shwepyiaye—also known as Kathea—near the Pekhon-Pinlaung road, presumably to be used as human shields.

A photo of the detainees blindfolded and walking in a line went viral on Facebook the next day.

The local source said that those who were taken by the military had stayed behind in Shwepyiaye after most of the 450 residents fled during the earlier clash.

“Maung Yoe was suffering from gout. He was left behind [in the village] because he couldn’t walk. He used to be always alone at home when his children went out for work,” he said.

Soe Tint reportedly stayed in the village so that he could look after his family’s cows after his other relatives fled.

“All 19 of them were left behind because they had to be. One of them stayed to look after the rice in the drying process. Another one was taking care of a 90-year-old relative,” the local explained.

The remaining 17 victims are still being held in Taunggyi and are facing major criminal charges which have not yet been disclosed.

“They’re too poor to get lawyers. However, we know that we didn’t do anything wrong, so we will have to just plead not guilty with a clear conscience,” the local man said of his fellow villagers.

The victims have been identified—in order of age—as Zawgyi Win, 59; Sein Win, 58; Kyar Ti, 49; Soe Win, 47; Khin Maung, 44; Maung Aye, 44; Kyi Lin, 44; Kyaw Win, 43; Aye Maung, 42; Hla Tun Oo, 34; Nay Myo, 39; Ohn Phe, 37; Sai Sai, 36; Aung Myo, 32; Pan Hla, 24; Tin Tun, 23; and Oak Nge, 21.

A spokesperson for the Pekhon chapter of the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force—one of the resistance groups involved in the clash that preceded the arrests—told Myanmar Now that none of the detainees are members of any armed resistance groups and have not been involved in anti-junta political activities.

Myanmar Now tried to contact the police station in Taunggyi where Maung Yoe and Soe Tint were reportedly held to inquire about their death as well as to learn of the condition of the remaining 17 abductees, but all calls went unanswered.

Burmese version.

Original Post: Myanmar Now