The family of a driver arrested with four passengers at a checkpoint in northern Shan State two months ago has no contact with him and does not know how he is or where he has been taken.
After U Zau Awng’s arrest, his family inquired about his whereabouts at the Kutkai military base, the police station and the Namhpetka military camp, but no one provided any information.
The man’s 70-year-old mother is worried about her son and cries every day.
Daw Lahpai Ja Eain said her husband was driving a taxi between Muse and Kutka town on 18 May, the day the military arrested him. He picked up some passengers in Ho Mong on his way back to Kutka, she said. “I don’t know who they are. My husband’s friend told me that he left Namhpetka checkpoint, but since then we haven’t had any communication with him.”
The couple have three children and live in Ward 7 of Kutka town.
An anonymous woman from Namhpetka village said informants from Ho Mong and Nam Oum probably told the Burma army that Zau Awng (42), who also goes by U Zau Ja, had Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers with him that day. At the checkpoint, “the soldiers did not inspect any cars other than his vehicle”.
A frontline KIA soldier said, “Those arrested at Namhpetka checkpoint aren’t KIA soldiers. They’re using the KIA’s name to collect taxes from the people for their own interests.”
Daw Lahpai Ja Eain said her husband is a civilian who worked as a driver for many years before their marriage. “I have to take care of my mother-in-law and our three children. We’re heartbroken and want to hear from him as soon as possible.”
On 20 May, soldiers arrested two youths at the Nam Khing checkpoint in Kutkai town. One was later released, but they kept the second youth after allegedly finding photos on his mobile phone related to the KIA.
The regime continues to target travellers between Kutkai and Namhpetka and several people accused of being KIA or People’s Defence Force fighters have been arrested.