Myanmar police reportedly raided a village in Nay Pyi Taw in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Thus far, police have provided no explanation for the raid, which occurred one week after residents of the same village were said to have carried out work on land confiscated by the government.
At about 2 a.m. on Thursday, according to local residents, a 60-strong police force raided Wegyi Village in Pobbathiri Township to arrest villagers from five houses, including the home of the local chairman of the opposition National League for Democracy’s village office, sparking clashes with other villagers.
“About 30 policemen entered my house and pulled up my mosquito net. Four or five of them arrested and handcuffed me. My wife was also arrested and her clothes were torn in the struggle. They also slapped my daughter’s face. She is just ten or eleven years old,” said Zaw Lat, the NLD village chairman.
“As my wife was shouting for help, the villagers came to us. When I asked [policemen] why they were trying to arrest me, they did not reply. Why did they need 30 officers to arrest me? Am I guilty? Did they have an arrest warrant? I am not the one who has committed a crime.”
Tin Soe, a local from Wegyi Village, said: “At about 5a.m., a person who said he was a police major came to us. He was accompanied by policemen. They threatened to shoot if we tried to move. I was also at gunpoint.”
The nighttime police raid sent the village’s children and elderly people into a panic, he added: “If they wanted to make arrests, they should have come in the daytime. Their act could cause unnecessary problems.”
Approached by Eleven Media, Lieutenant Police Colonel Min Aung from the Security Department of Myanmar Police Force confirmed that the incident took place but did not provide exact details about the purpose of the raid.
“It is true that the incident happened. A police force entered the village to arrest four people under Section 6.1 [Protection Act for Public Properties] for their offences. About seven policemen were injured in the attacks by the villagers, who shouted ‘thieves and robbers.’ We don’t know who is right and who is wrong. After an investigation, we will take action against the wrong doers. For now, we have opened a case for the injured police officer,” said Min Aung.
On September 12, the villagers were said to have carried out ploughing work in paddy fields that the Information Ministry had seized from them to build press offices.
Wegyi Village has about 400 households with about 500 residents. The pre-dawn raid left five villagers and three police officers injured. Of the three police officers, one is in serious condition at Nay Pyi Taw Hospital.