A coalition of Shan community-based-organizations has urged the United States to pressure Burma government to stop its military offensives in Shan State.
In a formal letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the coalition of Shan CBO’s said that new Burma Army offensives were causing hundreds of villagers to flee their homes in terror.
“We are now gravely concerned for the security of over 800 villagers, including 300 recently displaced, in Wan Warp village, Ke See Township. Over 500 heavily armed Burmese government troops are encamped in and around Wan Warp, restricting villagers’ movement and refusing to withdraw until today,” the Shan CBO’s said in the letter, which was released to the media.
The letter to the U.S. Secretary of State accused the Burma Army of looting livestock, damaging villagers’ farmland and stealing the possessions of villagers, claiming that the offensive undermined Burma’s claims to meaningful political reform.
“This aggressive expansion into Shan ceasefire areas, endangering and displacing civilians, throws further doubt on claims by the Burmese government that it is seeking a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict.”
Sai Hsor Hseng, a spokesman from the Shan Human Rights Foundation said that the situation for Shan civilians caught in the conflict was serious. “Civilians are living in constant fear. People are fleeing without their belongings – they lose everything.”
Sai Hsor Hseng said the U.S. should consider re-imposing sanctions on Burma because of the military campaign in Shan State.
“We have sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry because we want the USA to reconsider their policy on lifting the sanctions on Burma. The US should re-impose sanctions while the Burmese government are still attacking ethnic areas and put pressure on them to halt their military offensives.”
The peace process was being undermined by military offensives launched by the government’s military in civilian areas, Sai Hsor Hseng said. “ The escalation of military operations in ceasefire areas undermines the government claims of real reform. Not only that, but it also undermines the peace process. If the Burma Army and government really want peace they must stop their offensives.”
Sai Hsor Hseng called on the U.S. to halt its military-to-military cooperation with Burma while the conflicts in ethnic Burma still raged.
“The US should suspend or stop military to military engagement with Burma until or unless concrete change to the military backed 2008 constitution. Or rewrite a new one which is based on all [the] nationalities’ desire and guarantee [of] equality for all.”