Authorities Fail to Provide Protection in Unstable Khaw Zar Town, Ye Township

October 17, 2014

Ye Township

To date, none of the authorities in Khaw Zar Town have taken responsibility for the event in which four local residents were kidnapped by an unknown armed group, and held hostage while the group demanded extortion fees in exchange for the victims’ release, according to a local source.

The unknown armed group initially demanded a ransom of 75 million kyat but no one, including local senior monks, the village headman, and prominent village members, demonstrated enough courage to take responsibility to solve the problem.

Later, according to the local source, the armed group reduced their demands to 60 million kyat, and contacted the victims’ family members directly to demand their payment. Until October 12, 2014, the victims’ families had not decided whether to comply with the demands or not, the local source confirmed.

New Mon State Party (NMSP) officials state that they did not have the authority to invade the area and solve the problem, as the Khaw Zar region in under management of the Burmese government.

At the same time, troops from the local military base, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 31, have been away attending military training, while LIB No. 21 has been stationed to provide security in their place. Now the situation in Khaw Zar is becoming more stable, and although the military has not applied movement restrictions on the villagers, LIB No. 21 is not familiar with the local geography, and the troops are performing their duties superficially.

After a ceasefire agreement was reached between the NMSP and the government, two new splinter groups, led by Nai Bin and Nai Hlane, respectively, emerged in the Khaw Zar region, and have been extorting money from the locals. Ah-Bin’s group later adopted a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government, but Nai Lon and Nai Sound’s armed group emerged, and have been extorting villagers as well.

About twenty villages in Ye Township and ten villages in Yebyu Township have been victims of extortion by the non-state armed groups.

Even though Khaw Zar Town has a police station and military base, villagers are still being kidnapped and none of the authorities, including the NMSP, members of Parliament, or local government and military have taken any responsibility to resolve the problem.

Since the era of the Mon People’s Front (MPF) to the era of the NMSP, Khaw Zar has been a battlefield. To this day, despite the ceasefire agreement between the NMSP and Burmese government and democratic reforms introduced by President Thein Sein’s government, Khaw Zar has yet to experience economic, social, or political stability.

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