Ethnic Soldiers In Burmese Army Discriminated Against

Written by KNG
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 20:55
Two ethnic Kachin military personnel in Burmese Army’s No. 1 Nyaung Pin military base in Mongkoe in Burma’s Northeast Shan State deserted on September 17 because they could not withstand the torture, repression and discrimination by their superior Burman officers, said the two deserters.

Currently, the Burmese Army’s Mongkoe No.1 Nyaung Pin military base has the Namtu-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 324 led by Lt-Col Moe Zaw Htut on a rotational system every three or four months, local residents said.

During day time on September 17, three Kachin soldiers, Tangbau Lum Ze, Labang Ma Naw and Maran La Awng were serving in Company No. 2 under the battalion. They were ordered to collect tax from all civilians crossing the army gate on Mongkoe-Mongya Road.
Sources close to deserters said, the three Kachin soldiers did not collect tax from local civilians because they understood the local peoples’ language and were sympathetic given the current economic hardship and struggle for livelihood of the civilians.

The three Kachin soldiers were punished early in the night and were ordered by the commander Lt-Col Moe Zaw Htut to buy liquor from outside because they did not collect tax from local civilians, said sources.

After all the soldiers in the military base drank the liquor bought, the three Kachin soldiers were beaten up by the rest of the soldiers. Tangbau Lum Ze went into a coma following a serious head injury, said deserters. Lum Ze’s comrade Ma Naw and La Awng deserted at midnight the same day. They left their guns and fled apprehensive of being killed following the torture, beating and discrimination at the army base towards ethnic Kachin and Wa soldiers, said the two deserters.

The deserters said, they did not receive regular military rations and they always missed regular meals unlike their Burman comrades in the same battalion.

Recalling the discrimination in the LIB No. 324, the deserters said most soldiers in the battalion were local ethnic Kachins and Wa but the minority Burmans in the military base held ranks from the post of sergeant.

Besides, the crimes committed by Burman soldiers against civilians were always overlooked and no action was taken against them, the deserters said.

It was because of these reasons that about 70 soldiers mainly ethnic Kachin and Wa under LIB No. 324 deserted from the Mongkoe No.1 Nyaung Pin military base since early last August

Sources close to Burmese military battalions in Putao in northern Kachin State said, local ethnic Lisu and Rawang serve mainly in the locally-based Burmese Army battalions but they have to work under the command of Burman officers.

Ethnic military personnel in the Burmese Army in Putao are mainly sent to wars against the ethnic Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in Karen State, near the Thai-Burma border and their death toll is higher, added sources close to Burmese Army bases in Putao.

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