Regime detains volunteers involved in relief efforts for displaced Karenni villagers

Three volunteers, including a former National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate, were arrested last week while helping villagers displaced by recent clashes in Kayah (Karenni) State, according to close friends of the trio.

Sai Lin Lin Oo, a 29-year-old former NLD candidate, was arrested along with Nandar Oo Khin, 19, and May Zin Htoo, 20, near Loikaw while they were returning from a trip to deliver aid to Htee Poe Ka Loe, a village in Demoso Township, on May 26.

“We only found out on the morning of May 27. A policeman told us that Sai Lin Lin Oo had been held at the Demoso police station the night before. We were able to confirm this after asking around,” one of the friends told Myanmar Now.

“We heard they’re pressing charges against them, but we don’t know what for,” she added.

The three are in good health and are being kept at a military compound in Loikaw, she said, citing information received from sources familiar with the situation.

According to the Progressive Karenni People’s Force, a local youth organization, three other civilians were also arrested the same day. However, no further details were available.

Sai Lin Lin Oo contested a seat in Karenni State’s Bawlakhe constituency in last year’s election but lost to former President’s Office Minister Soe Thein, who ran as a candidate for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.

Sai Lin Lin Oo’s father, Sai Gyi, is the chair of the NLD’s branch in Bawlakhe. He was arrested on the morning of February 1 when the military staged the coup, but was later released.

Around 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since clashes between the military and the Karenni People’s Defence Force (KPDF), a civilian defence force formed in the wake of brutal crackdowns on anti-coup protesters, began on May 21.

The KPDF claims that it has killed 106 soldiers in Kayah State’s Demoso and Loikaw townships and neighbouring Pekhon Township in southern Shan State since the fighting started.

About 26 civilians, including KPDF members, have also been killed in those clashes.

Civilians sheltering in the jungle to escape reprisals from the military are in urgent need of assistance, according to local volunteer groups.


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