Locals say the 24 villagers were singled out for supporting the NLD and accused of belonging to or funding the PDF, which breached the pipeline’s security in an attack one day earlier
By Myanmar Now
Members of the military arrested 24 people on Tuesday in a raid on Na Nwin Taw Bo, located in Mandalay’s Natogyi Township, locals said.
Around 50 troops stormed the community at 5am, one day after the local chapter of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF) attacked 13 army personnel guarding an off-take station along major Chinese oil and gas pipelines around 15 miles from the village.
Locals described Na Nwin Taw Bo’s 800 households as being politically split: half are reportedly pro-National League for Democracy (NLD), and the other half are believed to back the military’s Union Solidarity and Development Party.
The 15 men and nine women detained by the junta were all known NLD supporters, whose elected government was ousted in a coup in February last year. They range in age from 26 to 70.
An eyewitness said that the soldiers carrying out the raid had a list of the targeted people, and accused them of belonging to or funding the PDF. The PDF operates under the shadow National Unity Government, in which there are many cabinet members who served in the NLD before the coup.
“They broke the front doors of the houses, starting from those on the eastern edge of the village. It wasn’t even dawn yet,” the local woman told Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity. “They asked for the list of household residents and the ID cards of the residents and took the ones who were on their list. They only did it to the houses where the NLD supporters live.”
The detainees were taken to the community hall in the centre of the community and told they were going to partake in “discussions” with officers, but no conversations took place, according to locals.
“They let them go back home at around 9am to pick up clothes, water and medications and then took them away in a military truck,” the villager said.
The military council has not released any information on the arrest of the villagers from Na Nwin Taw Bo, nor about the PDF’s attack on the guards of the off-take station in the area.
Natogyi PDF officer Twantay told Myanmar Now that he believed locals in the area were targeted as retribution not for harm caused to the junta soldiers at the site, but for the threat that the ambush posed to the security of the pipelines, which are a major economic interest to China.
“I don’t think [the military] feels particularly bad about their troops being hit. I think it’s more about the gas pipeline being damaged,” Twantay said.
“So many junta soldiers have been dying in ambushes, but they haven’t responded to those deaths in such a way,” he added.
As of Wednesday night, the families of the detainees from Naw Nwin Taw Bo still had not had contact with their loved ones.
Believed they may have been taken to neighbouring Myingyan Township, the Naw Nwin Taw Bo village administrator reportedly called the police chief in Myingyan and asked that the villagers be released on bail. Family members say he was told that this was “impossible.”
“We need to win this fight as soon as possible. That’s the only way we will be able to know peace,” the woman from the village said
Original Post: Myanmar Now