Friday, May 22, 2009

Burmese Soldiers Torture Civilians in Shan State

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese army arrested and tortured villagers in Hsi Hseng Township in Shan State on Tuesday including village headmen and school teachers, accusing them of having connections with ethnic rebels, according to ethnic sources.

On May 14, a 15-year-old girl was raped by a group of 12 Burmese soldiers led by Myint Oo when she went to her garden, villagers said. The girl is now in Taunggyi Hospital in Shan State.

Burmese soldiers also cut off the hands of a villager named U Lone, said Khun Joi Hto, a spokesperson for the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).

The incidents followed a clash in which soldiers of the PNLA and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) attacked Burmese troops on May 3 near His Hseng in Shan State. The PNLA is the military wing of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO).

Twelve Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 426 led by Myo Aung were killed, sources said.

On Tuesday, the Burmese army returned to the village. “They beat villagers and asked them where the rebels were,” said Khun Joi Hto.

The PNLO split from the ceasefire group known as Shan State Nationalities Peoples’ Liberation Organization (SSNPLO) in late 2007.

Local villagers said that Burmese soldiers beat and tortured them in revenge. Some villagers are still in hiding in jungle while others have fled to the Thailand-Burma border. The Burmese army also threatened local villagers that it would burn villages.

Sources also said that Burmese commander Bri-Gen Myo Aye who leads Military Operation Command 7 told the Pa-O ceasefire group, the Pa-O National Organization (PNO), that he would seize its region because the ceasefire group was not able to control the region.

The PNO, led by Aung Kham Hti, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime in April in 1991.

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