By Kantarawaddy Times
The military are beating up and arresting travellers after checking their mobile phones at checkpoints along the Yangon-Loikaw road and other locations in Karenni and Shan states, a male eyewitness who requested anonymity told the Kantarawaddy Times.
The source said the soldiers mostly check men because they’re looking for people involved with the People’s Defence Forces, which are fighting to overthrow the regime. But sometimes they also target women, he said, recounting how soldiers beat two women from Pekon town in southern Shan State.
He said suspects are forced to leave their vehicle or bus at checkpoints and beaten before being dragged to an interrogation centre. The soldiers check their IDs and mobile phones, looking for anything related to protests, anti-regime messages or photos of weapons or military uniforms.
All male suspects are asked to take off their shirts and the soldiers examine their bodies for incriminating tattoos. They also photograph everyone who passes through the checkpoints, which include next to Infantry Battalion-261 in Loikaw, Light Infantry Battalion-422 in Mobye, Pekon, Soung Pyong, Pinlawng and in Aungpan.
“We’re afraid of the soldiers. We don’t have weapons in our hands, they have the guns and they are threatening people.” he explained.
The soldiers also sometimes harass and arrest people carrying rice, clothes and medicine to prevent urgent donations from going to civilians displaced by the fighting or to resistance groups.
Since the coup a year ago, nearly 200,000 civilians have been displaced by the conflict in Karenni and southern Shan State.