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Ta’ang rights group blames Myanmar military for targeting civilians

More than 200 residents experienced human rights abuses in seven Ta’ang ethnic-majority townships in northern Shan State in 2019, according to Lway Chesanga, the spokeswoman for the Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO).

The organization said villagers suffered from artillery strikes targeting civilian areas and were killed or injured by landmines. They were also abducted, held hostage, used as forced forest guides, tortured, killed and had their homes looted.

Most of the human rights abuses were reported in Kutkai, Namhsan, Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships, with a few reported in Namkham, Namtu and Mantong townships, the TWO said.

“Overall, around 250 people suffered from human rights abuses. Some died, some can no longer work and some went missing,” Lway Chesanga told The Irrawaddy.

Rape cases were not included because they were difficult to confirm due to limited access to the area, the group said.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), which is active in the area, is holding talks with the government and Myanmar’s military over a possible ceasefire agreement together with its allies, the Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA).

However, the Tatmadaw or military has refused to recognize TNLA, MNDAA and AA territory and ceasefire agreements are unlikely while clashes continue.

The three groups, citing Myanmar’s military offensives on them, attacked several targets, including the Defense Services Technological Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin Township, Mandalay Region, in August.

They also blew up five bridges in northern Shan State on the trade route to the Chinese border, forcing the Construction Ministry to rebuild them.

More clashes have taken place since November last year.