Shan armed group ‘investigating’ members after viral video depicts torture of civilian 

A video shared widely on social media shows a man suspended by rope from a tree while SSPP soldiers watch him squirm to avoid being burnt by a fire on the ground below

The Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) is carrying out an internal investigation after a video shared widely on social media this week showed its members torturing a man, a spokesperson for the ethnic armed organisation said. 

The footage showed a man—identified as a civilian—hanging from a tree by rope with his hands tied behind his back, dangling over a fire on the ground and writhing mid-air to avoid being burnt. The act was reportedly part of an SSPP interrogation, and took place at a location between Mong Kung and Laikha townships in southern Shan State in early May. 

“It is the nature of interrogations to get intense at times. However, this was considered crossing the line, and we need to investigate the matter,” SSPP spokesperson Sai Phone Harn said, adding that “action would be taken” against the members responsible. 

A “trial” in an SSPP-controlled court regarding the incident was ongoing, he told Myanmar Now. 

“Because this was done by our troops, it is our responsibility to deal with the consequences. Our command centre is trying to prevent this from happening again.” 

Sai Phone Harn claimed that the victim pictured in the video was an informant for a rival armed organisation, the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), and alleged that he had been involved in several explosive attacks targeting SSPP convoys. 

The man was still in SSPP custody at the time of reporting, with the armed group maintaining that he retained no injuries during the incident in question.

Frequent battles have broken out between the RCSS and SSPP in Mong Kung and Laikha, with area civilians often taken in by the armed groups for questioning. Thousands of people have been displaced for more than one month by the clashes, seeking refuge in local monasteries, the Shan Herald Agency for News reported on Monday.

Representatives of both the RCSS and SSPP attended so-called “peace talks” in the junta capital of Naypyitaw earlier this year.

The RCSS was signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military in 2015. The SSPP opted not to sign, and is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee, a negotiating body of ethnic armed organisations that includes the powerful United Wa State Army. 

Myanmar Now News