Monday, August 24, 2009

Army torches over 300 houses of ethnic Shan

by Myo Gyi

Ruili (Mizzima) – Over 300 houses were torched last month by local Burmese Army columns from townships in southern Shan State, the armed ethnic Shan group statement said.

A statement issued by the 'Restoration Council of Shan State' (RCSS) on August 21 said six Burmese Army battalions set over 300 houses on fire since July 27. RCSS is the political wing of the 'Shan State Army' (South) – SSA-S.

"We want the international community, especially ASEAN and UN human rights organizations to know about the human rights violations in Burma. This statement urges and reminds the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military clique to stop its human rights violations committed on both Shan people and the entire Burmese people," the SSA-S spokesman Sai Lao Sai told Mizzima. SSA-S has been waging war against the junta for the right to self-determination.

Following clashes between the junta's army and SSA-S in central Shan State last month, the Burmese Army destroyed the villages for their alleged role in supporting Shan rebels by setting their houses on fire in keeping with its four-cuts policy, which includes cutting off communication channels between the villagers and the rebel army.

Over 40 villages, which were forcibly relocated, are from Meng Neng, Kehsi, Meng Kai, Leikha, Panlong, Nam Pan, Mone and Kun Hein in southern Shan State. Villagers from these villages now have to roam and hide in the dense forests, spokesman Sai Lao Sai said.

About 42 houses were burnt down in Tatmauk and Wan Ho Lone villages in Leikha Township by army columns led by Maj. Kyaw Thu Hla and Maj. Zaw Myo from IB 12 under the command of LIB 88, the local villagers said.

In a separate video report sent by Mizzima undercover reporters, 154 houses could be seen torched on July 29 in Hokhe village, Meng Kai Township. It left 641 people homeless.

The villagers fled without being able to take any belongings. Among the losses were a small rice mill, six motorcycles, one hand tractor with a trailer and 50 oxen pulled carts.

The homeless people had to take refuge at the monasteries in nearby villages or stay with their relatives.

"They could not bring anything with them except some pots and some clothes. All the paddy was burnt down along with their houses," an undercover Mizzima reporter, who watched the carnage, said in his report from Burma.

Sai Lao Sai said that they had already compiled the human right violations report with facts and figures committed in Shan State from 1996 to 2008. "In their four-cuts campaign, the junta systematically commits human rights violations against the Shan people. This had forced nearly 1,000 villages to be relocated. Nearly 2 million ethnic Shan people are homeless and displaced.

At least 718 women were sexually assaulted and 12 women were killed in sexual violence in Shan State from 1996 to 2005, the RCSS statement said.

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