Ethnic Shan human rights organisations have urged the Government to halt Burma Army attacks in Shan State, saying these attacks undermine hopes for a lasting peace agreement.
The statement, which was signed by 18 organisations including the Shan Human Rights Foundation and the Shan Women’s Action Network, said that recent attacks had already displaced 1,500 civilians.
The mass displacement of civilians had added to an already critical humanitarian crisis, the Shan organisations said. “The displaced are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and protection. Unable to harvest their crops this season, they are also facing a future food crisis.”
The Shan organisations said that current Burma Army offensives made a mockery of ‘talk of peace’ by the government.
“By launching this new offensive just before the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, Naypyidaw is making it clear that it has no interest in political negotiations to solve the conflict. It is persisting with its decades-long strategy of seizing and occupying the ethnic lands by force.”
The Shan Farmer’s Network called upon the government to prosecute Burma Army soldiers who were involved in an attack on villagers protesting pollution from a gold mine in Eastern Shan State.
The incident occurred on October 13 this year, the Shan Farmer’s Network said, when 20 villagers went to investigate the source of toxic waste that had been affecting their crops.
“When the villagers saw about 20 armed soldiers coming, they began leaving the area, but as they were walking away, the soldiers started firing their guns at them. The villagers were terrified and ran in different directions.” The Shan Farmer’s Network said, “One 50-year-old man called loong Sarm was shot and badly injured. He was taken to Mong Phyak Hospital, where he died.”
According to figures by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there are 587,000 people internally displaced in Burma.