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Burmese Government Must Stop new Military Operation against Ceasefire Army in Northern Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation  •  July 10, 2014

Since June 2014, the Burma Army has deployed nearly 2,000 troops from over 10 battalions in an operation against a ceasefire group, the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (a.k.a Shan State Army-North or SSA-N), in Kehsi and Murng Hsu townships. The operation has inflicted human rights abuses against hundreds of local civilians.

The first attack was carried out from June 11 to 14 in Murng Hsu, when hundreds of troops advanced on an SSA-N base near this ruby mining area. Shells were fired by troops stationed in a local village, placing civilian lives at risk. Villagers were also forced to act as guides and drivers for the troops during the attack.

On June 24, the Burma Army sent 50 trucks of troops, weapons and ammunition from Mandalay to the area.  On June 26, Burmese troops began artillery attacks on the SSA-N about 20 kms northwest of the SSA-N headquarters of Wan Hai. For several days, shells were fired in this civilian-populated area. Since then, 800 troops from seven battalions have been stationed in local villages, restricting villagers’ movements and transport of rice, patrolling through villagers’ fields, destroying crops and fences, and looting villagers’ livestock. This has caused about 200 local villagers to flee their homes and seek refuge in a local temple.

Since July 2, a further 18 trucks of Burma Army troop reinforcements have been sent into the conflict area from nearby command centres. Local villagers have also been ordered to provide 10,000 pieces of bamboo for the construction of barracks for a new artillery training centre at Man Kart, near Tangyan. A local Burmese military officer said this was specifically to prepare to attack the SSA-North.

SHRF is gravely concerned at this troop build-up and expansion of military infrastructure, which completely contradict the claims by the Burmese government that it is seeking a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

One aim of the offensive appears to be to clear out resistance forces so the government can proceed with control and exploitation of local natural resources, including hydropower. On May 22, 2014, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power and Hydrochina Corporation to proceed with the Naung Pha dam on the Salween River, northeast of Tangyan, despite the fact that it lies in a conflict zone, and the issue of natural resource control has yet to be brought to the negotiating table. The local contractor for the project is the International Group of Entrepreneurs (IGE), owned by the family of former minister Aung Thaung, who conveniently brokered the renewed ceasefire agreement with the SSA-N in 2012.

In the interests of establishing genuine peace, SHRF strongly urges the Burmese government to immediately stop this military offensive against the SSA-N, stop the building of the new artillery training centre, and withdraw troops from the area.

SHRF also urges the Burmese government, Chinese and Thai investors to immediately cancel all dam projects on the Salween River, as they are fuelling the conflict.

For map and details of human rights abuses see attachment, or go to www.shanhumanrights.org

Media Contact:
Sai Hor Hseng              66: (0) 85-869-4341    (Shan, English)
Nang Kwarn Lake        66: (0) 93-297-7754 /  66: (0) 84-668-0984   (Burmese, English)

Download the full statement in English Burmese Shan here

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This post is in: Press Release

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