Indaw PDF members quit over punishment of squadron commander

Members of a People’s Defence Force (PDF) battalion in Sagaing Region’s Indaw Township have reportedly resigned en masse since a squadron commander was placed under house arrest earlier this month.

The dispute began at the end of last year, when Mone Dine, a squadron commander with Indaw PDF Battalion 2, and three other members of his unit were forced to disarm for killing an alleged military informant without permission from their commanding officers.

That move led to some of Mone Dine’s supporters filing a report on February 27 to authorities of the publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG) overseeing Military Region 1, appealing for action against the Battalion 2 leadership.

In response, on March 3, the battalion’s commander, Naw Lut, summoned Mone Dine and several others to the district office of the PDF and placed them under house arrest, according to recently resigned members of the battalion.

“Mone Dine was one of the top fighters leading our forces in combat here. Most members of the battalion couldn’t agree with the leadership’s abrupt action against him for something like killing a military informant,” said a former member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Roughly half the battalion’s members have since turned in their firearms and left the unit, he added.

Indaw PDF troops seen in October 2021 (Indaw PDF)

Further complicating the matter, many of Mone Dine’s supporters say that he was targeted for attempting to uncover corruption among commanding officers and other NUG authorities in the township.

“The case is a bit complicated. It’s true that they killed the military informant without prior permission. However, Mone Dine and his associates were also looking into cases involving the gold panning and timber businesses, and investigating the battalion’s tax accounting, and I think that was why they were targeted,” the former PDF member said.

Some of these charges were included in the February 27 report, which accused several officials by name, including Aung Zin Phyo, the deputy commander of Indaw PDF Battalion 2; Mai Wai, a local defence team commander; intelligence officer Aung Myo Lin; Than Win, leader of the People’s Administration Team in Sagaing Region’s Katha District; and Shwe Ya, leader of the People’s Administration Team in Indaw Township.

NUG officers reportedly responded with a promise to address the issues raised in the report and requested that Mone Dine’s group remain close to Indaw Township while awaiting a resolution.

Myanmar Now attempted to contact several of the accused for comment, but only received a response from Shwe Ya, who declined to speak about the detention of Mone Dine and his group on the grounds that it was a military matter.

He added, however, that he rejected the accusations of corruption, saying that local NUG authorities have conducted their affairs with “complete transparency.”

“The entire NUG township committee’s income and expenses are free for all to see. There is complete transparency. The relevant financial departments can come evaluate us and we will be completely transparent. We’ve never taken bribes from anyone nor have we ever used the money for our private benefit,” he said.

Last month, however, Myanmar Now reported that locals living in Indaw and Banmauk townships had accused NUG authorities of taking bribes to let Chinese companies harvest excessive quantities of timber and smuggle it through the area.

Since then, there have also been complaints of local NUG authorities revoking permits for gold-panning in the Meza River. No reason was given for the move.

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