Rights Groups Called For End To New Rail Link In Shan State
17 August, 2010: The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) today called for an end to the new railway expansion to Eastern Shan State by Burma’s military regime.
A joint report released by the Shan rights groups said the new line will enable rapid deployment of heavy artillery into this remote mountainous region in the event of an offensive against the UWSA (United Wa State Army) or other ethnic resistance forces.
“This is not a passenger railway, it’s for the army’s tanks and howitzers,” said Ying Harn Fah of SWAN.
In the SPDC-accelerated construction of the 361km-long railway that will run across the Salween River to Eastern Shan State, thousands of acres of farmlands have been confiscated and farmers who made complaints threatened with imprisonment, the report continued.
“The regime is telling the world that their 2010 elections will bring change to Burma, but on the ground they are digging in for war,” said SHRF researcher Puen Kham. “Burma’s neighbours should think twice about investing in these war zones.”
The railway cuts strategically between the northern and southern territories of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the biggest ceasefire group, which has resisted pressure by the regime to become a Border Guard Force.
And it will also pass through the Mong Kok coalfields, opposite Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, where Burma’s regime and Thai investors are planning to excavate millions of tons of lignite and build a power plant to sell electricity to Thailand, according to the report.
SWAN, founded on 28 March 1999, is a network of Shan women active in Shan State and Thailand, committed to working for gender equality and justice for Shan women in the struggle for social and politcal change in Burma through community-based actions, research and advocacy.
The Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which was founded on 6 December 1990 by its late founding Chairman, Khun Kya Oo.
Van Biak Thang