Over 3,000 displaced civilians in central Shan State are fearful of returning to their villages after receiving death threats from the Burma Army, according to a statement released by a coalition of Shan community-based organizations (CBOs) today.
Since clashes between the Burma Army and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) broke out in early October and continued into early December, more than 10,000 civilians in Mong Hsu, Mong Nong, and Kesi Townships have fled their homes.
“Government troops are continuing to loot and destroy local property and food stocks, and are persecuting displaced villagers attempting to return home,” the statement read.
The CBOs reported that in Mong Hsu Township alone, more than 1,000 acres of crops have been destroyed and more than two hundreds houses have been looted and damaged. Additionally, 13 rice mills were also destroyed and nearly 4,000 livestock have been killed or lost.
Burma Army and the SSPP/SSA-N soldiers remain in the area, despite an agreement between the groups to stop fighting and withdraw.
“Without sustained international pressure, Naypyidaw will feel free to continue its aggressive expansion into ethnic territories,” said Shan human rights activist Nang Charm Tong, a spokesperson for the coalition of CBOs that penned today’s statement.
Sai Tun Aye, a candidate for Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in Mong Hsu Township, expressed concern for sustained militarization in the area.
“Neither side has withdrawn their troops yet. They are still stationed in an area where they are in view of each other,” he said.
Yesterday, the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) also released a statement accusing the Burma Army of forcing civilians to accompany them as guides, porters or human shields, a practice which has been widely documented throughout Burma’s long-running civil war. The statement also alleged that the Burma Army still had troops stationed in conflict areas, had destroyed property and made land inhabitable.
“Troops from over 14 battalions have camped in and around local villages, dug bunkers, laid land mines, and shot at villagers trying to return to harvest their fields,” read the statement.
On December 15, SHAN reported that villagers from Koon Nim village, south of Mong Hsu, were forced by the Burma Army to return to IDP camps after they attempted to go back to their homes.
BY SAI AW / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)
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