Multiple resistance leaders killed, arrested by junta in southern Shan State 

The body of Ko Lin, the leader of the Kyaukse District PDF (Supplied)
The body of Ko Lin, the leader of the Kyaukse District PDF (Supplied)

Three members of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF) were shot dead and others captured by the Myanmar army in southern Shan State in recent days as the junta intensifies its repression of resistance activities in the region.

An impromptu check of overnight guests at the Central Yangon Monastery in Nyaungshwe Township at 7pm on Monday led to the arrest of two resistance leaders sheltering there: 24-year-old Kyaw Khant of the Ywangan Urban Guerrilla Force and 26-year-old Myat Min of the Taunggyi PDF.

“One was there trying to get medical help and the other was meeting him. They were caught while trying to escape after the military started checking people’s phones,” a local told Myanmar Now.

The men were taken to the interrogation centre in the state capital of Taunggyi, a spokesperson for the Ywangan PDF said. Their condition was not known at the time of reporting.

Military propaganda channels on the app Telegram also posted news of the resistance leaders’ capture.

A spokesperson for the Taunggyi Nway Oo Channel, a group reporting news on the anti-coup movement in Shan State, said that young people were being targeted for arrest more frequently in the region, and that those close to them were typically warned by the military not to publicise their detention.

“We can’t even report news about it. The families of the victims always ask us to remove the [detainees’] names as it can make it harder for them to negotiate with the junta,” the individual said.

Fatal shootout

Villages in Ywangan Township, located in the Danu Self-Administered Zone and bordering Mandalay Region, were targeted in a recent series of raids by junta forces and their allied Pyu Saw Htee militia.

Militia members attacked a PDF base in the township on August 10, seizing weapons and reportedly torching six homes in the neighbouring village of Kyauk Pa Choke village.

Another column attacked the village of Telu on August 13, killing three members of the resistance who were en route to the site to fight the military, according to PK, another guerrilla fighter and a close friend to one of the deceased: Ko Lin, the 40-year-old leader of Mandalay’s Kyaukse District PDF.

“They were travelling to get more weapons but they ran into the junta column that was assaulting the region. They tried to fight them off despite the difference in firepower,” he said.

Another member of the Kyaukse PDF, 33-year-old Chit Nyi Aung, was also among those shot and killed in the incident, PK added. The identity of the third casualty was not known at the time of reporting.

A fourth PDF member survived but was taken into junta custody.

A relative of Ko Lin’s said that his family only learned of his death on Monday evening.

“His family lost contact with him on August 13. He only told them that he was going to go on an important journey. His phone was turned off after that,” the source said. “They couldn’t believe he had died until they saw photos [of his body] on social media.”

The bodies of the three men were left behind by the military, and area locals cremated them at a nearby cemetery, unable to return them to their families.

“The family even had to make offerings to monks secretly. It’s heart-wrenching to see such things happening,” the relative said, referring to a covert ceremony held on Tuesday in Mandalay in honour of the slain fighters.

Ko Lin, who had made a living selling vegetables before the February 2021 coup, is survived by six children, including a 22-year-old son arrested for his own anti-dictatorship activities in July. He is reportedly being held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, where he faces a lengthy sentence and multiple charges.

“Ko Lin would always tell me to stay alive, as the revolution wouldn’t take much longer, but now he has died first,” his friend PK said.

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