Administrator failed to take action against the head of a village militia group for removing street signs

September 19, 2019

HURFOM: Villagers of Kwan Hlar village, in Mudon Township, Mon State have filed a complaint against 3 people including the head of a village militia group.  The villagers  claim these individuals  wrongfully removed  8 street signs on January 27, 2019, and that the  village Administrator had failed to take any action.

The street signs were installed in the second week of January, 2019 at  the direction of the Ward Administrator and a Kwan Hlar village committee. Then removed within a week.  Despite complaints from the villagers, no action was taken for the sign removal.  On September 16th 2019 the villagers organized a protest  directed at the  Kwan Hlar Administrator for a failure to take prompt action against those who removed  the street signs installed in January.

“The signs were kept in the administrator’s office after their removal. The administrator claimed the case will be solved within 3 days after [an] investigation. It has been months [and] the perpetrators [have] not

[been]

punished. About 150 villagers signed a complaint letter to the Mon State government and 8 particular government departments on February 26, 2019,” stated Daw Than Than Htay, who led the protest.

The Deputy Chief Officer of Mudon Township General Administration Department (GAD) arranged a meeting to discuss the initial complaints, with the local residents on March 11, 2019. It was understood at that time, that the case would be submitted to the authority of the Mawlamyine District.

One month after the March meeting, the Deputy Chief Officer of Mudon Township GAD indicated the street signs would be reinstalled following a discussion with the village committee.

“Just restoring the signs back haven’t made us satisfied,” said a resident of Phaung Kalatt Ward of Kwan Hlar village.  Local residents feel that those who removed the street signs in the first place, should be punished in accordance with the laws, and that  the village Administrator is also at fault for failing to take prompt action.

Paung Hluttaw lawmaker Mi Kon Chan, raised this issue in the Phyi Thu Hluttaw on September 11, 2019.  She asked,  Why militia groups were formed in the village and which department is responsible to address their actions? 

The Deputy Minister of Ministry of Defense, General Myint Nwe explained that the military are managed by a separate legal system but because village militia are not soldiers (from the Tatmadaw), their actions must be dealt with by  civil courts.

In addition to militia groups, there are many small splinter groups which have surrendered to local battalions. It has been reported that  some of these splinter groups are involved with the drug trade, arms trafficking and some groups have been threatening local people to give up their land (land grabbing).

According to the Deputy Defense Minister, local military battalions have formed their own militia groups in regions they control.  There are estimated to be over  6,000 such militia groups across the country and each group could have anywhere from 20 to 60 members .

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