Tatmadaw Shells Village Near Laiza

By Network Media Group
Friday, September 17, 2021

Burma Army (BA) intentionally targeted civilians when it fired artillery at a village close to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) Laiza headquarters, the KIO spokesperson said.

“Two shells landed near our COVID-19 control centre in Mai Sak Pa village, where civilians live and where there’s no KIA (Kachin Independence Army) camp. They knew civilians were living there, so we question why they’d attack the village…If they’d attacked a military target, we’d have nothing to say about it,” Col Naw Bu told NMG.

The BA fired a total of five shells at around 10pm on Wednesday 15 September.

A woman from Mai Sak Pa said one shell hit near a KIA checkpoint, the military wing of the KIO, while another hit near the entrance of the control centre.

The spokesperson was quick to point out that an attack on the quarantine centre could affect its ability to prevent transmissions in its controlled areas. “Both the KIO and BA are responsible for controlling the spread of the pandemic. They’ve visited this place before and the attack shows that they really don’t care about the people and the spread of COVID-19,” Naw Bu told NMG.

Maj Gen Khun Thant Zaw Htoo, former associate adjacent general for the Office of the Commander-In-Chief of Defence Services, visited Mai Sak Pa village on 20 May 2020 and donated personal protective equipment to the KIO. Officials from the Kachin State Government met with the KIO’s COVID-19 Control and Response Committee in the village on 13 May 2020.

After Wednesday’s shelling, residents fear for their safety, Naw Bu told NMG. “The attack on civilian targets is a violation of the military code of conduct,” he said.

According to Article 8 of Rome Statute from International Criminal Court, it’s a war crime to cause ”extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” and ”intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities”.