Burma Army fires shells at Shan ceasefire group in Namtu, injuring a woman farmer, then forces her husband to be their guide

A woman working on her corn farm in Namtu township, northern Shan State, was wounded by shrapnel from a Burmese government mortar shell during fighting against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) on August 15, 2013. On finding her, the Burmese troops did not assist her, but arrested her husband, forcing him to abandon his injured wife and guide them for two days.

Map showing location of fighting and injury of civilian, August 14 2013

A woman working on her corn farm in Namtu township, northern Shan State, was wounded by shrapnel from a Burmese government mortar shell during fighting against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) on August 15, 2013. On finding her, the Burmese troops did not assist her, but arrested her husband, forcing him to abandon his injured wife and guide them for two days.

The incident took place during fighting between about 50 troops of Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 504 from Hsipaw and SSA-North troops, about 40 kms east of Namtu.

During the clash, Burmese troops fired mortar shells at farmlands being cultivated by villagers in Mong Yen tract. A 34-year-old woman named Aye Lao, working in her cornfield with her husband, was hit by shrapnel in her left shoulder. Soon after, the Burmese troops arrived at her field. Instead of taking her immediately to receive medical treatment, they arrested her husband, Sai Seng, aged 39, and forced him to be their “guide” to take them to where the Shan soldiers were.

Sai Seng was forced to accompany the Burmese troops for two days. During this time he was hit several times by the soldiers. He was released in the village of Gawng Kha (over 15 kms from his own village, Weng Nan). When he asked the Burmese soldiers for help for his wife, they offered him 10,000 kyats (US$10), telling him that half was to treat his wife, and half was for his labour. When he said that this would not be enough, they gave him 20,000 kyat (US$20).

He went back to his wife, who was in such pain that he could not carry her, so he went to the nearby village of Pang Kham and asked villagers there to lend him an ox-cart. He then brought his wife back on the ox-cart to his village (near Pang Kham), where she was able to receive treatment.

This latest incident of fighting is in violation of the ceasefire agreement between the SSA-North and Burmese government, which was renewed in January 2012. There have been over 100 armed clashes between the two sides since the renewed ceasefire agreement.

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Website: www.shanhumanrights.org