The mutilated bodies of two Ta’ang men were found in Namkham township in Shan State, where heavy fighting between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups has been raging for months.
On June 3, the bodies of 32-year-old Mong Aik Tun Oo and 34-year-old Mong Nyi Ja Win were found with stab wounds in their necks and on the rest of their bodies. The men had been missing for two days after they had gone to their farm located between Naung Ann and Man Aung villages.
The search for the two men was hampered by a landmine explosion on June 1 that killed a young man from Quu Sai village.
A funeral for Mong Lu Aung Kyi, who was only 22 years old, was held the next day and attended by many ethnic Ta’ang villagers.
“We were so busy because of the mine we found in Naung Ann and the next day we had the funeral so we couldn’t go and look for the missing men,” said Mong Than Nyunt, who lives in Man Aung village and is a Ta’ang youth leader.
The men’s motorbike was found on June 2. The next day the bodies of the two farmers were found by villagers, according to Mong Than Nyunt.
Locals accused the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA-South) for the killings, saying Shan-speaking armed forces had entered Naung Ann village on June 1 and detained a Ta’ang resident. A local sayadaw secured his release by explaining that the man was not a soldier for the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
Between June 1 and 3, four landmines were found in Naung Ann village. “Villagers asked the police to cooperate with the army to demine the area but the police didn’t do it. We solved it ourselves by throwing tyres on the landmines from far away. One mine exploded because of a cow,” said Mong Than Nyunt.
Several calls from The Myanmar Times to the Namkham police station for information went unanswered.
Mong Than Nyunt said most villagers are afraid to leave their houses because of a lack of security in the area, despite the presence of a military battalion that was supposed to protect them.
“Around 25 members of an armed group are patrolling the village. They detain and kill villagers if they suspect [them of belonging to another armed group], and they laid landmines in the area. The military does nothing. We are helpless,” he said.