Indigenous and environmental activist Saw O Moo was killed by soldiers with the Myanmar military on 5 April 2018. Photo: KESAN

12 April 2018 (Mongabay) – Indigenous and environmental activist Saw O Moo was reportedly killed in Myanmar’s Karen State on April 5.

According to the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN), Saw O Moo, who worked with KESAN as a “local community partner,” had attended a community meeting that day to help organize humanitarian aid for villagers displaced by renewed hostilities between Myanmar’s military and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed ethnic group. Despite a nationwide ceasefire agreement signed in October 2015, recent hostilities between the two sides are said to have displaced as many as 2,300 local people.

Saw O Moo was reportedly returning to his home in Ler Mu Plaw village by motorbike when he offered a ride to a soldier of the KNLA who was assigned to provide security for Karen civilians in the Ler Mu Plaw area. “At 5:20 PM, just as the two men were nearing Saw O Moo’s home in Ler Mu Plaw, they were ambushed and shot at by Burma Army soldiers at a place called Wah Klo Hta on the edge of the T’Ri Plaw plain,” KESAN reports.

According to The Irrawaddy, the Myanmar military has denied any wrongdoing in the killing of Saw O Moo and claimed he was in fact a rebel fighter and that he had grenades on his person. The Irrawaddy reports that, in a statement released early Wednesday, the military says its troops “shot at two fleeing plainclothes men who were suspected of being involved in sabotage attacks and planting mines,” and that the troops had “captured one of the men dead.”

The Irrawaddy also reports that Saw O Moo’s family has not been allowed to retrieve the community leader’s body, and that soldiers have fired upon anyone attempting to do so. [more]

Indigenous environmental activist killed in Myanmar

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