Burma: Conflicts in Palaung areas in Shan state create more IDPs
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Burma: Conflicts in Palaung areas in Shan state create more IDPs

Burma’s ethnic minorities have been undergoing various mistreatments through horrible military operations in the name of state security since the military seized power in 1962. Attacks on these resource rich ethnic areas continue as a usual practice. There is an unwavering demand from Burma’s ethnic groups to enjoy equal political, social and economic rights. The Constitution needs to guarantee the rights of self-determination and of equal representation for every ethnic group compliant with democratic norms. It is also essential to include provisions against racial inequities.

Armed Conflict in Kutkai Township, Northern Shan state, creates more internal displacement due to Burma Army’s new offensive in recent times, Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO) released a press statement Thursday. On 18th June 2013, there was a conflict between the TNLA Battalion (112) and the Burmese military Infantry Battalion (IB) 145 in Kutkai Township, Northern Shan state, according to PWO’s Information Documentation and Research Department. More than one hundred villagers have been fleeing their homes because of the conflict which was launched by the government troops.

Fifty-six people from Noug-Ngar village as well as over hundred people nearby villages left their homes as the clash occurred between the government soldiers and TNLA’s armed unit.  Some of them took shelter in nearby Mai-Yu village, some of them fled to closer farms and others ran to the nearest villages, referring one villager, PWO said.

The worst was that subsequent to the villagers fled and leaving their shops behind, the government soldiers from Kun-lone Infantry Battalion (IB) broke down the doors and stole from the shops. The soldiers instead of protecting the natives’ properties they stole over two millions Kyat worth of materials.

 “Conflict is still happening. The Burmese military and the TNLA have fought twice on the 18th and once on the 19th. The fighting has happened three times. No villagers were injured during the fighting but they were scared so they ran away. Four Burmese soldiers were killed and 30 were injured. They had to be transported by car to the hospital. The fighting was very bad even when people were injured they continued to fight. The TNLA was worried about villagers,” referring one TNLA leader, PWO mentioned in its statement.

According to TNLA battalion commander Mai Plang Haol, a clash between Burma Army Infantry Battalion 17, led by Maj. Myo Myint Aung, and the joint-forces of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) occurred in Hoe-Nam village,Nam-san township Kyaut-mae district on the 15 May 2012. Four soldiers from Burma Army Infantry Battalion 17 were killed in action during the clash, although there were no injuries or fatalities amongst the KIA and TNLA soldiers, as said by local source.

Clashes between Burma Army troops and combined-forces of KIO/KIA and TNLA have been occurring frequently since April 2012 in the areas around Man-tong and Nam-san Townships in northern Shan State.

According to PWO’s previous statement dated 21 May 2013, hundreds of children in Palaung IDPs’ shelters’ in Nam-khan cannot access education since they have no certificates of permission for entering schools since they fled from their homes in last year. Although the children have passed their examinations in 2012, they cannot have opportunities to continue their education in 2013 without official certificates from their respective schools. The Palaung IDPs in Nam-khan have been fleeing from their homeland since 2012 but they cannot go back to their homes. The children in Nam-khan camp are suffering diarrhea and can’t access enough medicine in this month, May 2013, PWO said.

Since the government has publicly declared its reform plans including national reconciliation, it must carefully handle its armed forces to maintain the peacemaking efforts. But, presently, the Burma army’s actions are not likely in favor of the peace plan made by head of its government. If it was a fabricated story, the people would blame the president as an anti-reformist. The consequences of the army’s contradictory acts will push the country into another appalling disaster.

According to some analysts, the government’s democracy plan is similar to imaginary words that do not harmonize with its visible dealings such as overlooking to restore law and order, continuing operations on ethnic rebels while making peace efforts, neglecting to permit creation of trade unions, not allowing public protests and so on.

However, the government should not give the wrong impression about the people’s hope for change. The ethnic armed groups do not completely trust the government’s peace talks because of the government armed forces’ unethical invasions into their territories. In addition, the government military has been increasing its deployment of armed forces in the conflict zones, while putting forward the ceasefire proposals prior to a genuine peace scheme.