Troops arrest 25 youths returning to their village in Sagaing region of Myanmar — H Talk Asia

A group of 25 youths from Shwebo township in Sagaing region were captured by junta forces, according to locals.

The young men, mostly between the ages of 13 and 20, fled the village of Tha But Taw because of fighting between junta forces and local People’s Defense Forces (PDFs). They encountered a military column of about 80 soldiers when they returned to check on the situation there on Sunday.

The troops took them to the village of Yone Thar across the Mu River and they were not released, a resident – who asked not to be named for security reasons – told RFA.

“They were asked to wear military gear when they were arrested, after that we didn’t hear anything,” the local said.

“They fled the fighting but were arrested when they met the military convoy after coming back to see the situation in their village.”

Locals said they didn’t know if the youths were involved in a local PDF, used as porters, or captured to be used as hostages or human shields.

The village of Tha But Taw has 200 houses and usually around 500 residents who fled the arrival of the military column. The troops did not burn houses in the village but stole valuables, according to a local woman who also asked not to be named.

“We forgot to take our valuables like some gold and cell phones because we were on the run,” she said.

“Everyone was kidnapped and almost all houses were ransacked. So far we haven’t dared to go back to the village and I haven’t heard anything about the young men.”

RFA’s calls to Sagaing region junta spokeswoman Aye Hlaing, who is also the region’s social affairs minister, went unanswered on Tuesday.

The Sagaing region has seen fierce fighting between junta forces and PDFs since the military toppled Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a February 1, 2021 coup.

In the past 22 months, the region has seen the third-highest number of arrests in the country, behind Yangon and Mandalay, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

AAPP figures show there have been 16,520 arrests nationwide since last year’s coup, with more than 13,000 people remaining in custody.