Burma Army Accused of Killing, Burning Bodies of Shan Villagers     

By Lawi Weng 23 May 2016

RANGOON — According to Kachin and Shan community leaders, the Burma Army is responsible for killing and burning the bodies of several villagers in northern Shan State.

Sai Tun Win, a state lawmaker with the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), said that on a recent visit to the Kyaukme area, he found at least eight burned corpses and that local Shan people had accused the Burma Army of the killings.

“We found three dead bodies—from Noung Kwan village—in one area and another five bodies in separate locations in and around Wow Long village,” Sai Tun Win said.

According to local villagers, the three people from Noung Kwan village were detained by the Burma Army on their way from their village, taken to a small mountain and then killed. Although their bodies were burned, the village head and other people from the village were able to identify them, Sai Tun Win said.

He added that the five bodies near Wow Long village were found in multiple locations: two in a burned house, the bones of one in the toilet of another house, one outside the village—supposedly belonging to a Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) member—and another in a different location outside the village.

All of the bodies found belonged to ethnic Shan villagers, Sai Tun Win said.

Fighting between the Burma Army and the SSA-N broke out earlier this month. The Burma Army accused the dead villagers of being SSA-N members, according to Sai Tun Win.

Several SNLD lawmakers recently visited the conflict zone, intending to help locals and to collect lists of civilians who had disappeared or were detained by the Burma Army.

“We are sure of the identities of the three bodies from Noung Kwan. We still have to identify the other five. We plan to issue a report highlighting the human rights violations of the recent fighting. We’ll then talk with our party about what to do next,” Sai Tun Win said.

Similarly, a member of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) said that fighting between Burma Army Infantry Division 99 and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Brigade 6 flared in Man Ping village—in northern Shan State’s Mongko Township, near Burma’s border with China—on Sunday afternoon. According to the KBC member, the village, with an estimated 20 households, was caught in the crossfire and burned to the ground.

“The villagers had already fled to the Chinese border. There was more fighting today in a different, nearby village,” the KBC member said.

The Burma Army has frequently faced allegations of human rights abuses in conflict zones, particularly among ethnic minority populations.

The Irrawaddy was unable to contact Burma Army representatives for comment on Monday.