The frontline humanitarian organization, Free Burma Rangers have reported that the Burma Army is continuing to attack civilians and reinforce its troops in Karen State. The Free Burma Rangers said the “Burma Army’s continued occupation, troop reinforcement and aggressive actions against civilians, in clear violation of the National Ceasefire Agreement, is preventing displaced villagers still in hiding from receiving aid.”
The recent Burma Army attacks come on the back of the displacement of villagers in Papun District in late August.
At the time the Free Burma Rangers said “Burma Army 44th Division, Battalion 2, under the command of Ko Ko Win, launched attacks against the Karen of Papun District, Karen State on 30 and 31 August and 1 September, displacing over 200 Karen people from Kan Nyi Naung Village in Dwe Lo Township, Papun (Muthraw) District, Karen State, Burma. In the initial attack on 30 August, the Burma Army fired five rounds of 81 mm mortar into the village and hundreds of rounds of rifle and machine-gun fire.”
The FBR has documented the build-up of Burma Army troops arriving in Kamamaung Town. The FBR said the “Burma Army reinforcements from LIB 207 were seen arriving at a LID 44 base in Kamamaung Town days before traveling north and arriving at Ka Yie Naw Village on the 11th. The 207th relieved 97 soldiers from 2nd Battalion who moved south to Ta La Aw Ko and Noe Ta villages and encamped before returning to their LID 44 base in nearby Kamamaung Town.”
A senior Karen National Union official who spoke to Karen News with condition of anonymity said that the actions of the Burma Army is provocative and it shows disrespect to the ceasefire agreement and its signatories.
“It is a violation of the NCA. They [Burma army] always try to push the line to see if there will be any response from our side,” the KNU official said before adding, “they push further if we do not response to their actions. This is a clear tactic they’ve used to wear down our soldiers’ patience…they’re pushing to make us look like we are the ones who break the ceasefire when we do respond to their hostilities.”
The KNU earlier put out a statement following the Burma Army’s deployment of extra troops in Hpa-pun area in late April. The troop deployment was linked to the controversial road building that ignited conflict in the area. The KNU statement pointed out that the Burma Army’s actions “illustrate total disregard for the NCA and …the KNU strongly protest against the activities of [the] Tatmadaw…a violation of the NCA.”
Saw Albert, Field Director of the Karen Human Right Group (KHRG) told Karen News that the recent Burma Army actions in Hpa-pun areas have undermined efforts made by villagers in rebuilding their lives during the relatively stable ceasefire period.
Saw Albert explained to Karen News how the Burma Army’s actions are threatening the security and stability of civilians.
“During the two-three years of ceasefire period, villagers in Hpa-pun tried to rebuild their lives and improve their living standards after decades of conflict, but the recent situation returns them to their past nightmares and refreshes their fears. They [villagers] didn’t put their trust in the peace process and now recent conflicts means they have no trust at all.”
Saw Albert said politicians talk of ‘forget the past and move forward’, but for villagers in Hpa-pun, there is no concrete proof that will make them forget the past as the current conflict brings back more of the same negative of what civilians experienced in the past.