Human rights activists point out that the displacement is occurring despite the military’s unilateral ceasefire in northern Shan State.
Nearly 500 internally displaced people (IDPs) arrived in the town of Tangyan in northern Shan State last week, afraid to return to their villages after fighting broke out between the Burma Army and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP).
“There are 490 people who arrived in Tangyan within three days,” youth leader Sai Sai, who is assisting the IDPs, told SHAN on Friday.
According to Sai Sai, the IDPs have taken refuge in four monasteries since August 6: 174 in Nam Pin monastery, 143 in Lon Mu, 97 in Taw Louk and 76 in Homang.
People are afraid to return to their villages, because Tatmadaw soldiers are deployed nearby, they said. The IDPs left the communities of Ner Pieng, Peing San, Kunwet, Nampat, Lon Keing, Nampan, Tong Houang, and Nampin villages in Tangyan Township.
“The Burma Army’s military column is staying inside the village. If they left our village, we would return home,” IDP in Homang monastery Sai Kham told SHAN. “Currently, both the two forces are near our village: one group is inside our village and another group is outside our village. They are surrounding our village, so clashes can occur at any time,” he said of the Tatmadaw and SSPP.
The Metta Foundation, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy party, Tangyan Youth Organization, and the Huay Keing and Mong Kawng youth groups provided mosquito nets, mats, blankets, plates, rice, cooking oil and salt to the IDPs on August 7.
“We don’t currently need to worry about shelter for them. In long term, we are worried about food supplies for them,” volunteer at Lon Mu monastery Sai Aye said of the IDPs. “Nearby villagers provided curry and rice packages to the IDPs. Youth groups also provided some food stuffs,” he added.
The Burma Army accused the SSPP of recruiting soldiers after the armed group brought 29 villagers in to a drug rehabilitation camp. The Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion 127 and Light Infantry Battalion 523 attacked the SSPP military camp on August 6.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) condemned the offensive by the military against the SSPP as a violation of their own unilateral ceasefire agreement, which the Tatmadaw extended until the end of August.
“The actions of the Burma Army are really wrong. They already declared a unilateral ceasefire, so they do not need to do any military movements, but they are carrying out military movements,” SHRF spokesperson Sai Hor Hseng said. “Many people were happy when they declared the unilateral ceasefire. Villagers felt like they wouldn’t have to run away. I am so sad to hear about these villagers ,” he added.
The Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team has yet to report about the fighting in Tangyan.