6 June 2024

Yangon, Myanmar – A Myanmar ethnic minority armed group has executed three of its personnel following a public trial held in a town captured from the military in January, media affiliated to the group has reported.

Myanmar’s borderlands are home to an array of ethnic minority armed groups, some of which have been battling the military for decades for autonomy and control of resources like jade or opium.

On Wednesday 10 “military personnel” went on public trial for offences including murder, extortion and kidnap in the northeastern city of Laukkai, according to media affiliated with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

The MNDAA is an ethnic Chinese group that holds territory in northern Shan state, close to China’s Yunnan province.

A video released by The Kokang media outlet late Wednesday showed the men shackled and wearing identical tracksuits with placards around their necks detailing their names and crimes.

A crowd of onlookers were shown gathered in front of the stage where a man in military uniform read out the sentencing.

Three of the men were sentenced to death for murder and for selling weapons and ammunition stolen from the MNDAA, The Kokang said.

The others received jail sentences.

The trial was an “important measure to educate people not to participate in any crimes against the law,” according to The Kokang.

AFP has contacted a source close to the MNDAA for comment.

In January around 2,000 junta troops surrendered Laukkai to the MNDAA following weeks of fighting in one of the military’s biggest defeats.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing made a name for himself in Laukkai in 2009 when, as a regional commander, he expelled the MNDAA from the town.

The military then installed a militia that got rich producing drugs and selling a potent cocktail of gambling and sex to visitors from across the Chinese border.

In recent months the town became a hotbed of online scam compounds staffed by citizens of China and other countries often trafficked and forced to work swindling their compatriots.

China — a major ally and arms supplier of the junta — repeatedly told Myanmar’s military to crack down on the industry.

The MNDAA offensive that recaptured Laukkai and swathes of other territory from the military had China’s tacit backing over the junta’s failure to act, according to analysts.

The MNDAA has said it will stamp out all scam compounds.

Agence France-Presse