Village militia campaign leads to arrests in Yebyu Township

HURFOM, Yebyu: Starting in January 2010, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 282, led by Major Nyi Nyi Soe, began ordering residents of Alaesakhan village, in Tenasserim Division’s Yebyu Township, to force a village militia.
According to a villager in Alaesakhan, Major Nyi Nyi Soe ordered residents to start militia trainings; every household in the village was ordered to contribute one member to the new force. Individuals uninterested in joining were told that they would be forced to pay a monthly tax of 6,000 kyat following the militia’s formation. Following the issuance of Nyi Nyi Soe’s orders, many Alaesakhan residents fled from the village to their plantations, in order to avoid militia membership.
HURFOM’s field reporter learned that many villagers are reluctant to join militias because Mon rebel groups, including the Nai Chan Dein and Nai Bin groups, are active in the region. Villagers also complained that as members of the militia they would be under the command of LIB No. 282, and would likely be sent to particularly dangerous areas in the region in place of the battalion.
One villager quoted Major Nyi Nyi Soe’s speech to HURFOM, “If all of you want to protect your village, you must join the militia, don’t worry about the guns or if the government will support you, just join the militia and you will also get support from the government. If all of you have guns, you don’t need to afraid of rebel groups.”
“They just want to put us in dangerous places, because villagers have no power to fight both of them [the battalion and the armed groups], if something happens [while we are on duty] the battalion can blame it on us. We are at the mercy of both groups”, said a 32 year-old Alaesakhan villager. According to HURFOM’s field reporter, in early February 2010, 4 Alaesakhan residents were detained by LIB No. 282 after they fled to their plantations to avoid joining the militia. When military column No. 2, under control of LIB No. 282, arrived at these villagers’ plantations, they arrested them. According to sources, the 4 villagers were bound, tortured in a variety of manners, and taken to the battalion’s camp.
Two victims from the incident were Nai Par Mon, 35 years old, and Nai Seik Nyan, 35 years old; both were Alaesakhan residents. After they were arrested, the battalion accused them of being rebel soldiers, and the two were taken to a hidden location. Alaesakhan villagers informed HURFOM that the pair has still not been heard from.
Alaesakhan is located in what the State Peace and development Council has categorized as a “black area”. Many villagers in the region face detainment and torture at the hands of both Mon rebel groups and Burmese military battalions stationed in the area.

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