Tat­madaw, SSA-N fight­ing dis­places 400 civil­ians

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

FIGHT­ING be­tween the mil­i­tary and the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) in Thibaw/Hsi­paw town­ship, Shan State, has dis­placed as many as 400 vil­lagers over the past two days, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal MP.

Sai Htoo, a spokesper­son for the Shan State Pro­gres­sive Party, the po­lit­i­cal wing of the SSA-N, yes­ter­day con­firmed the fight­ing, but could not say ex­actly how many troops were in­volved in the clashes.

“In Hsi­paw, we have re­ceived re­ports that fight­ing has hap­pened, but we don’t know yet which troops’ unit ex­actly. It is not se­ri­ous fight­ing. Two groups of troops met and had a small fight, as far as I know,” said Sai Htoo.

Ac­cord­ing to Shan State par­lia­men­tar­ian Sai Kham Aung (Shan Na­tion­al­i­ties League for Democ­racy; Hsi­paw 2), about 400 civil­ians have fled the hos­til­i­ties, leav­ing Nar Lot vil­lage in Hsi­paw town­ship to take up refuge at the Nar Ma Kaw and Nar Ohn monas­ter­ies.

“Yes­ter­day I went to Nar Ma Kaw [monastery], where vil­lagers have shel­tered. There were about 50 in Nar Ma Kaw and 240 in Nar Ohn. This morn­ing more ar­rived, bring­ing the to­tal refugees to 130 in Nar Ma Kaw,” Sai Kham Aung said yes­ter­day.

With the corn har­vest­ing sea­son un­der way, some worry that the lat­est fight­ing will once again pose a threat to liveli­hoods in the area. When The Myan­mar Times trav­elled to Shan State ear­lier this year, civil­ians in con­flict zones told of how hav­ing to flee to safety had dis­rupted plant­ing-har­vest cy­cles and their chil­dren’s school­ing.

“If fight­ing hap­pens dur­ing the reap­ing sea­son for corn for the Shan, the reap­ing sea­son for tea leaves for the Ta’ang, it af­fects the liveli­hoods of peo­ple. The ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren isn’t sta­ble be­cause of the con­flict,” said Mong Aik Tun, a Ta’ang youth leader and teacher.

Ear­lier this month ac­tivists took to the streets in My­itky­ina, Kachin State, to protest on­go­ing hos­til­i­ties be­tween the Tat­madaw and a hand­ful of eth­nic armed groups in Kachin and north­ern Shan states. Else­where civil so­ci­ety, youth and re­li­gious groups have or­gan­ised sim­i­lar an­ti­war cam­paigns.

The cam­paign­ers are urg­ing the mil­i­tary to halt of­fen­sives in eth­nic re­gions, some of which have con­tin­ued or re­flared in the af­ter­math of the so-called 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence, the gov­ern­ment’s sig­na­ture ini­tial foray into Myan­mar’s peace process.

An SSA-N colonel con­firmed that the Tat­madaw launched an of­fen­sive against the Shan armed group in north­ern Shan State’s Lashio dis­trict at the end of Au­gust, days be­fore the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence was con­vened.

Over the past year, thou­sands of civil­ians have been dis­placed by con­flict in Shan State, as the Tat­madaw has en­gaged in hos­til­i­ties with the SSA-N, the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army and the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army.

All three are non-sig­na­to­ries to the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs, nearly 10,700 peo­ple were liv­ing in IDP camps in north­ern Shan State as of Au­gust 1, though the re­port did not cover Hsi­paw town­ship.

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