A Shan human rights group condemned the Burma Army for shelling a Buddhist temple in central Shan State, eastern Burma and said the government disrespects religion, except when it uses it for its own propaganda.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation claim that last week Burmese troops from Light Infantry Battalion 525 launched an artillery attack on the village of Wan Warb, 30 kilometers north-west of the Shan State Army-North headquarter, Wan Hai, in Shan State.
The Burma Army shelling damaged a Shan Buddhist temple and seven houses, injuring four villagers – an elderly woman died of shock when shells exploded near her house.
Tzarm Noan, coordinator of the Shan Human Rights Foundation told Karen News.
“On the same day that Thein Sein (president) office issued a statement blaming TIME magazine for damaging the image of Buddhism, shells are falling on a Shan Buddhist temple -it shows that they (government) don’t respect any religion.”
Tzarm Noan said if the president and his government wanted to defend Buddhism, he had a strange way of demonstrating it.
“Thein Sein does not really care about protecting Buddhism, if he really care why he let his troops shelled the temple in Shan State. The [Burma Army] soldiers looted valuables from the temple, they took what they like, and now they are staying there – using it as their base.”
The attack on the Shan State Army-North, is a violation of the cease fire it had with the government. The Shan State Army-North is a Shan ethnic armed group based in Northern Shan State, eastern Burma.
The SSA-North reached a series of ceasefires with the Burmese military government in 1989, but that cease broke down in March 2011 when the Burma Army launched a military offensive against SSA-North, displacing more than 30,000 civilians.
The government signed a new ceasefire deal with the SSA-North in January 2012. The agreement has however, failed to stabilize the situation in northern Shan State – a series of armed clashes have been reported since the signing of the ceasefire.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation said last week’s attack in Wan Warb village forced more than 30 monks and novices and 150 villagers to take refugee in the surrounding areas.
“Even though the government say the situation in the country is getting improving and that it is safe, The human rights situation is not getting better in ethnic areas – the Burma Army close to villages are looting properties, and forcing civilians to be porters.”
Tzarm Noan said if the government really to make peace it should talk to all ethnic armed groups as a united alliance and not one-by-one.
“The Burma] Army has to stop attacking civilians and stop attacking ethnic armed groups that have already signed cease fire agreements.”