Anniversary Of Massacre Designated As Shan Human Rights Day

By Network Media Group.
Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) designated June 16, when the Tatmadaw massacred Shan civilians 23-years ago, as Shan Human Rights Day.

On that date, in 1997, fifty-six civilians were murdered by the Burma Army in southern Shan State. After killing them, Burma Army soldiers burned their bodies, says Sai La, CSSU’s general secretary.

The horrific event that occurred because there was no “justice” or “rule of law” must be remembered, he says. Twenty-seven people were killed near Hper Ho waterfall and twenty-nine near Hsaik Hkawng village, both located in southern Shan State. Sai La says hundreds of thousands were forced to flee to the Thai border, where many still remain.

For building peace and national reconciliation, the government needs to acknowledge its past mistakes in the ethnic regions of the country to “avoid this kind of brutal and horrific scenario in the future.”

“We need justice for these civilian deaths and, at the same time, we need to show our sympathy to the relatives of those that were killed. We therefore declare the date as Shan Human Rights Day,” he says.

CSSU issued a statement on the anniversary of the massacre condemning Tatmadaw offensives from 1996 to 1998, a time when many civilians suffered human rights abuses at the hands of Burma Army soldiers. “These civilians were innocent victims who got caught in the middle of a fight between two armed forces,” Sai La says. “They were used as forced labour. They were displaced. They were forcibly relocated from their villages. And they were raped. Many suffered.”

He told NMG that more than 1,400 villages in 11 townships, located in southern Shan State, had been destroyed. Over 400,000 villagers were displaced, and more than 600 women were raped. Many were forced to work or were tortured, and many people died.

The survivors fled to other areas of Shan State or they crossed the border to Thailand, Sai La says, where they’re living in refugee camps. Some have resettled to third countries.

The refugees in Thailand cannot return to their homeland because there still isn’t peace, Sai Lin, head of Kong Kyaw Shan refugee camp, told NMG. The Tatmadaw built many army camps and some of the land will be flooded after the completion of the Mongton and Tar San dams. While it’s not possible to return to their homeland, they’re struggling to survive in Thailand, he says, explaining that food rations for the camps have been stopped. When Shan refugees try to travel to Thai cities to work, they’re arrested by police for not possessing travel documents. However, Sai Lin says, “We cannot return to our villages because the Burma Army built their military camps in our area.”

The government, Tatmadaw and ethnic armed organizations must ensure that they don’t commit human rights violations or do anything to impede peace for civilians, he says. “If a person commits human rights abuses, the respective organization must take action against the perpetrator.”

Most of the Shan displaced by the fighting live in Kong Kyaw, Kawng Mu Mueng, Loi Samsip, Loi Lam, Loi Tai Leng and Loi Kaw Wan camps.