Militia pressures villagers to agree to coal excavations

Shan State, Myanmar. Map: Google

Manpang People’s Militia coerced leaders and residents of several villages to attend a meeting about coal excavations in Lashio district in northern Shan State. The militia led by Lit. Mon summoned the residents of Kwan Koot, Ho Nar, and Loi Nguen villages to Kwan Koot Monastery to discuss the militia’s involvement in excavating coal in Tanyang District.

Residents already rejected previous attempts when a company tried to start evacuations in the past. Over 400 farmers signed a petition in 2014 stating they didn’t want evacuations from the site located near a tributary of Namhaung Creek in Namhu Lwelkar village tract, around three miles away from Tanyang town.

 “The villages objected saying that rivers and creeks and farmlands would be destroyed. So the company backed off,” said anonymous resident that attended the meeting.

The militia sent their men hoping to restart the project, the resident explained. They wanted signatures to start in 45 days, but no one signed.

A young man that didn’t want his name used said: “Manpang People’s Militia sent a letter to come and meet them. It was not an official letter. It was written on a normal paper. The villagers were afraid because there was the word ‘kan sit’ which means military. They have the guns.”

A representative of the Manpang People’s Militia told those in attendance their group “contributes to the region” so rather than bring in an outside company they should be the ones to do the coal excavation.

The militia has been long accused of being heavily involved in the opium trade and profiled in several Shan Drug Watch reports.

According the UK-based non-profit Global Witness report: “Guns: Cronies and Crops” they were a beneficiary of extensive land confiscations by the Myanmar Army. By 2013, over five million acres of land were leased out for commercial agriculture; over a quarter was used for rubber plantations said the report. Some of this land was given to Manpang People’s Militia.

Unconfirmed news reports suggest that the Manpang People’s Militia may be working for outside companies that are using them to pressure villagers into allowing coal excavations to take place.

Courtesy of BNI

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