Shan IDPs Fear Burma Army Attacks Along Thai-Burma Border

By Network Media Group
Thursday, April 8, 2021

Thousands of civilians who fled from fighting between Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) and Burma Army in the past are worried they’ll have nowhere to go if the Burma Army attacks Shan bases along the Thai border where they now live.

“We want Thai authorities to allow Shan IDP (internally displaced persons) temporary shelter in Thailand if there is fighting,” said Sai Leng from the Shan Refugee Committee. He told NMG there are Tatmadaw bases near the IDP camps, located in the Shan strongholds, which means they can launch an artillery strike.

Over 6,000 civilians reside in six camps for displaced civilians, and all except one are inside Burma, along the Thai border. If the Burma Army attack, villagers don’t have anywhere to go except Thailand, but it is unclear if Thai authorities will accept new refugees.

Recently, over 2,000 Karen refugees fleeing Burma Army airstrikes in northern Karen State were deported from Thailand.

Sai Leng told NMG that Shan groups asked the Thai government to provide shelter for civilians if the RCSS bases are attacked but there’s been no response. “At the moment, all the Shan IDPs can do is build bunkers.”

He heard an announcement that seven camps were established in Mae Sot District to house the new Karen refugees but didn’t know if it was true. “I don’t believe the Thai government because they sent a representative to attend the ceremony for the Burmese Armed Forces Day.”

Tachileik Township Border Committee sent a letter to their Thai counterpart on March 30 informing them it was necessary to attack RCSS’s southern bases because the ethnic armed organization supports the protest movement. In the letter, it promised no ammunition would land on the Thai side of the border.

“This is impossible. Their shells landed in Thailand when we fled fighting a long time ago. Bullets also struck Thai villages along the border. And Thai soldiers were hit by the Burma Army’s shelling in 2002,” Sai Leng told NMG.

Kawng Mu Mueng, Loi Samsip, Loi Lam, Loi Tai Leng and Loi Kaw Wan IDP camps are located in Shan State and Kong Jor refugee camp is in Thailand.