Tat­madaw in­sists land­mine use kept within rea­son­able min­i­mum

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com

THE Tat­madaw con­tin­ues to pro­duce and use land­mines, deputy de­fence min­is­ter Ma­jor Gen­eral Myint Nwe told par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, em­pha­sis­ing that this ac­tiv­ity was kept to a min­i­mum.

“The Tat­madaw lim­its its land­mine pro­duc­tion and us­age in its op­er­a­tions. On the front lines, for se­cu­rity rea­sons, it lays land­mines sys­tem­at­i­cally: reg­is­ter­ing them and clear­ing them sys­tem­at­i­cally when sol­diers leave a place,” he said.

“In armed con­flict ar­eas, [the Tat­madaw] lays land­mines in re­gions where sol­diers can’t be po­si­tioned, for the se­cu­rity of the area, with the aim to pre­vent de­stroy­ing fac­to­ries, bridges and power lines or tow­ers,” he said. “But the [mined ar­eas] are fenced and land­mine warn­ing signs are posted there.”

Daw Nan Khan Aye, a Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy MP from Shan State’s Namtu town­ship, said it can’t be de­nied that non-state armed groups are also us­ing land­mines and strong ex­plo­sive weapons – par­tic­u­larly since 2012.

She did not spec­ify the name of any par­tic­u­lar armed group.

“Those who are work­ing for the de­fence and se­cu­rity of the coun­try with­out tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity could cause dam­age to the coun­try,” she said, adding that she wants the Tat­madaw to clear land­mines and de­liver minere­lated pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

Maj Gen Myint Nwe said the Tat­madaw has been help­ing clear land­mines when lo­cals in­form them of sus­pected ex­plo­sive de­vices. He said the army has also been de­liv­er­ing pub­lic aware­ness ad­dresses about land­mines in a bid to re­duce risk.

With armed groups lay­ing land­mines at the en­trance to vil­lages and along­side roads, he said, lo­cals in some con­flict-wracked ar­eas are hes­i­tant to travel to their work­place.

“Chil­dren tend­ing their buf­fa­los are play­ing with the land­mines, be­cause of the lack of mine ex­plo­sion pre­ven­tion mea­sures and de­liv­er­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion,” Daw Nan Khan Aye said.

She added that no one ever of­fers a con­do­lence over deaths or in­juries re­sult­ing from land­mines.

Ac­cord­ing to Land­mine Mon­i­tor, Myan­mar is the third-worst coun­try in the world for an­nual land­mine ca­su­al­ties. There were at least 3745 re­ported ca­su­al­ties re­ported be­tween 1999 and the end of 2014, though it is thought the real fig­ure could be much higher.

Myan­mar has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and is the only state to have laid mines each year since then. Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Ban Land­mines, sta­te­owned Myan­mar De­fence Prod­ucts In­dus­tries still pro­duces mines in Nyaung Chay Dauk, Bago Re­gion. Eth­nic groups are also said to be still pro­duc­ing land­mines.

As The Myan­mar Times re­ported last year, de­spite the pres­ence of sev­eral in­ter­na­tional de-min­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions in the coun­try, zero mines have been cleared due to a lack of trust.

Maj Gen Myint Nwe said the Tat­madaw is par­tic­i­pat­ing in ceasefire and peace­mak­ing pro­cesses, as well as work­ing to ed­u­cate peo­ple about the dan­ger of land­mines, and in­form them of clear­ance ac­tiv­i­ties of the Myan­mar Mine Ac­tion Cen­ter.

“At the mo­ment, the Tat­madaw is work­ing to­gether with lo­cal peo­ple to con­duct hu­man­i­tar­ian land­mine clear­ance ac­tiv­i­ties in the con­flu­ence of Thumwe­hta, Hpapun, Khaw Pote, Nat Taung and Dar Gwin in Kayin State,” he said.

– Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

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