Villagers flee to avoid forced recruitment

01 June 2015
Villagers flee to avoid forced recruitment
Photo: Theingi Tun/Mizzima

About 1,000 villagers fled their homes in eastern Myanmar’s restive Shan state on Thursday because of a forced recruitment drive by a local armed ethnic group, local residents told RFA on 28 May.
Those who left are women, children and students, some of whom have since returned to their homes, farming machines and livestock, said Khun Ta Maung, deputy secretary of the Pa-o Literature and Culture Organization in Namhsan.
When the Restoration Council of the Shan State and Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), the dominant armed ethnic group in southern Shan staterecruited people in past years, villagers did not flee to avoid being forced to join them in their fight against the government army.
RFA contacted the RCSS office in Taunggyi for comment, but there was no immediate answer.
Two people who fled from the RCSS said the group recruited about 50 people from one of its temporary camps.
About 90 men from villages in Namhsan Township are staying at a monastery to avoid arrest by RCSS, sources said.
The ongoing conflict in Shan state has broader implications for the state of peace in Myanmar, as President Thein Sein seeks to forge a nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA) with more than a dozen ethnic armies ahead of elections planned for later this year.
Although the RCSS/SSA had reached a bilateral cease-fire with the government in 2011, it is not a member of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) coalition of 16-armed ethnic groups involved in the peace talks.