Burma’s Army Continues Violations Despite Agreement: SWAN
21 December 2012: Communities in Shan State, Burma said they still face various forms of human rights violations perpetuated by army soldiers despite the peace negotiation, a statement by the Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) said.
The statement said villagers raised concerns about land confiscation and environmental degradation from investment projects, continued fighting despite ceasefire agreements, and ongoing human rights violations, including sexual violence, by the Burma Army.
Hundreds of people spoke out at a series of public meetings jointly organized by members of the SNLD, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) and Shan Literature and Culture Associations.
Many villagers expressed their disappointment over China’s laying of oil and gas pipelines through their lands in northern Shan State.
“Women desperate to support their families described secretly trying to cultivate their confiscated fields,” the report said.
Ying Harn Fah, spokesperson of SWAN said: “People in Shan State are asking what sort of peace this is, when they losing more and more of their lands and livelihoods.”
A woman from Kyaukme said the rape cases reported in the past were just the tip of the iceberg, adding many more cases remain untold.
SWAN members travelled for nearly three weeks to meet communities in Taunggyi, Nongkhio, Kyaukme, Hsipaw, Lashio, Kesee, Hsenwi, Kutkai, Namkham, Muse and Kengtung in Shan State.
Earlier this month, SWAN joined over 300 farmers, monks and MPs in a prayer ceremony in Bawgyo and Hsipaw to protest the safety threat posed by the pipelines in the salt farming area.
“The voices of communities highlight the urgent need to end militarization in ethnic areas, so that people can participate freely in the peace process,” added the report.
During the recent visit, SWAN co-hosted the ‘Trust Building for Peace Conference’ in collaboration with the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) and Shan civil society groups in Rangoon from 26-28 November.
Burma’s government has approached ethnic armed groups across Shan State as part of its peace negotiation programs, with some having signed a preliminary cease-fire agreement and others in the process of holding talks.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang