Lt-Gen Yawdserk, leader of the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA), says so far no party concerned has approached him though there has been a lot of false accusations leveled against him and his movement, since 4 Chinese engineers from Tasang hydropower dam project were abducted by an unknown armed group on 17 May.
“I cannot take action unless there is an official request, either written or unwritten,” he said, in response to SHAN’s query this morning. “The said Chinese firm has been in Shan State for some time now, but we, the hosts, have not been informed of its presence. Had we been, we could have helped prevent such unseemly occurrences.”
According to the latest information, 4 of the abductees, 3 boat drivers and 1 interpreter, have been released, but the 4 engineers remain under custody somewhere on the west bank of the Salween, probably in Kengtawng-Kunhing area.
A source who recently returned from Mongpan said, “I heard from Burmese and Lahu (militia) officers that the kidnappers had demanded 3 million kyat (B105,000 or $3,500) ransom for each and decided that it was unlikely the SSA was behind the whole thing. For if it were the SSA, it would have asked many times more or something better than cash.”
Some Thai border security officials had speculated earlier that the SSA could be following the footsteps of the Shanland United Army (SUA) when it staged a daring kidnap of 2 Russian doctors in 1973 and held them in exchange for Khun Sa, who was then lavishing in Mandalay prison. Shan State Army (SSA) North leader Hso Ten and Shan elected leader Khun Tun Oo are currently serving 106 years and 93 years respectively in Burmese jails.
The source added that he therefore thought it was the handiwork of a smaller group.
The Kengtawng-Kunhing area, apart from the SSA and the Burma Army, has several armed militias supported by the Burma Army.
Under these circumstances, the SSA leader Yawdserk said he was not sure he could guarantee the safe return of the 4 engineers. “But I would be able to find out what really happened,” he told SHAN. “I might even be lucky enough to talk them into releasing those abducted.”
On 10 November 2011, companies from three countries:
- China Three Gorges Corp, Sinohydro Corp and China Southern Power Grid Co.
- Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and
- International Group of Entrepreneurs Co. in Myanmar
signed an accord on a 7 gigawatt project on the Salween in Burma over 15 years.
Burma Rivers Network (BRN), a coalition of rights and environmental groups that oppose the construction of megadams, says the dams will be “solely for short-term profit of investors and not for the benefit of the people.”
Security has been tightened at the project site after the incident, according to a border security source. The new rules include:
- Close monitoring of the coming-in/going-out of the “foreigners”
- To submit a field work plan three days beforehand so the security forces could make preparations accordingly