Robbery revives old fears in Ta Ra Nar village

September 27, 2013

HURFOM: The rice-producing farmlands of Ta Ra Nar village in Kyaikmayaw Township are home to roughly 2,000 households comprised primarily of ethnic Mon families. The village is also known for its significant number of security officials based in the area, including state police, local militia forces, and members of the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the predominant ethnic Mon resistance group. For this reason, when a robbery took place unimpeded earlier this week in a home centrally located among various security forces, residents reported a wave of anxiety that evoked past feelings of a village life characterized by absent rule of law and recurring safety concerns.

“It’s very weird. Ta Ra Nar is a crowded place where a lot of people live. I thought that the robbers could not be far away since they dared to rob in the [early] evening,” said Ko Win Thein, a local NMSP physician. “As soon as we heard, just 10 minutes after the incident, we tracked and looked for them until 3am but we didn’t find anything.”

The robbery began around 6pm on September 23 when four people entered a two-story house and immediately locked the doors from the inside, trapping the 45-year-old resident in her home while her children were out attending after-school tutoring. The trespassers proceeded to kick the resident and threaten her with a weapon, although she reported being unable to see their faces or confirm whether they did wield a gun. The woman recounted that they spoke to her in perfect Burmese, a detail that arose suspicions in town about whether local militia members could have been involved.

Neighbors became aware of the break-in only after the four intruders cut power in the house to escape unseen with approximately 15 million kyat in cash and gold. As news of the robbery spread, different security force members searched the village but found no trace of the burglars.

Since the incident, residents said they have been acutely aware of their surroundings, staying indoors when possible and locking up their homes early in the evenings.

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