Myanmar’s Wa militia has handed over to China 1,207 of its nationals suspected of cybercrime offenses.
The United Wa State Army (UWSA), Myanmar’s biggest and most powerful ethnic militia with close ties to China, said it detained hundreds of Chinese citizens over their suspected involvement in online fraud schemes.
All were turned over to the Chinese police at the border crossing between Myanmar’s Shan state and China’s Yunnan province, according to WSTV, the Wa militia’s media outlet, which posted pictures of the occurrence on its Facebook account.
The UWSA liaison office confirmed the arrests to the Associated Press and Radio Free Asia, with a representative saying raids were carried out Wednesday and Thursday last week with the help of the Chinese police.
Xinhua, China's state-owned news agency, also reported that 1,207 Chinese nationals were transferred to China, including 41 fugitives.
The UWSA rules swaths of territory in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state, with two separate areas under its control bordering China in the northern part of the state, and Thailand in the south.
It has an estimated army of 30,000 soldiers and maintains close relations with China, as well as Myanmar’s military junta, also backed by Beijing.
China has long been pressuring authorities in Myanmar to crack down on cybercrime gangs that operate in border regions and carry out telecom fraud in China.
Organized crime gangs have forced hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia to engage in cybercrime, according to a recent report from the UN Human Rights Office.
In Myanmar alone, at least 120,000 people across the country are believed to be held in slavery-like situations where they are forced to carry out online scams, the report said.
In addition to forced labor, victims are subjected to other human rights abuses, including torture, inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention, and sexual violence.
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