Four Khawzar Town Residents Remain Held Hostage by Unknown Armed Group

October 3, 2014

An unknown Mon armed group kidnapped five residents from Khawzar Town,  Ye Township, Mon State last Friday, September 19th, and have demanded a 750 thousand kyat ransom for their hostages.  The group told relatives of the victims that the hostages will be released once the village pays the demanded sum.

On September 19t.h, at around 8pm, villagers were preparing for Maha-Dout offerings at the Auk Monastery in Khawzar Town, when the villagers were kidnapped by the unknown armed group. According to a relative of one of the kidnapped, “around twenty-five members of the [unknown Mon armed] group came to the village, [posing] as villager[s], hid[ing] the gun[s] with them. They already had the name of the [people] that they [were planning to] kidnap.”

Of the five residents taken by the group, Nai Shew, Nai Plai, and Nai Myit were kidnapped at the monastery, while Ma Cherry and Ma Win Tee were taken from their homes. The group took the victims about one mile from Khawzar Village, and then transported them to their temporary base in Pout Pin Kwin Village.  Ma Win Tee, the mother of a young child, was released the next day, while the four remaining victims continue to be held by the group.

The village administrator and relatives of the hostages met with the head monk of the Auk Monastery to request that the funds donated for monastery construction be used to pay the ransom. The monk rejected their request and refused any involvement in the incident.

According to a relative of one of the abducted, the group of relatives reported the incident to the Infantry Battalion No. 31, who responded that they had “already reported it [the incident] to the military.” “If if we do not report [the incident],” they said, “we worry that they will tackle us.”

Military and police from Khawzar Town met with the hostages’ relatives many times since the abduction, but have failed to act. The villagers believe that the military, police, and unknown Mon armed group are affiliated, and working together to demand money from the villagers.
Currently, the military has taken responsibility for the villagers, but fail to stand guard.

“They ask us to build the hut for the guard, but we did not see them serve their duty,” said a villager from Khawzar Town.
On March 27th, 2014, a Mon splinter group delivered a letter to Khawzar City’s monastery supporters on, demanding the collection of 20 million kyat money from villagers.

Four separate armed groups are active along southern Ye Township and northern Yebyu Township, led by Nai Saung, Nai Chan Dein, and Nai Lwin, respectively, and have been known to abduct villagers and demand money.

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