Burma Army Accused of Torturing, Killing Civilians in Shan State      

By Nyein Nyein 1 June 2016

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Burma Army soldiers have been torturing and killing civilians and using them as human shields in a recent offensive against the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) in Kyaukme Township, displacing over 1,000 villagers, according to the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF).

The fighting erupted in May near the site of the Upper Yeywa dam, where local residents have voiced strong opposition to the project.

A report from the rights group on Wednesday indicated that at least 56 residents from some nine villages experienced human rights violations between May 11th and 21st of this year.

Sai Kheun Mai, the spokesperson for SHRF, said that eight of these nine villages had also endured bombing campaigns and that some villagers remain unable to return to their homes.

He told The Irrawaddy that of nine deaths which had occurred, three were of Shan villagers between 26 and 30 years old who were the victims of extrajudicial killings. Additionally, five villagers were reportedly beaten by the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Division 504; and 42 villagers from various villages were used as human shields.

SHRF, which regularly documents human rights violations in Shan State, said that the organization condemned the Burma Army for “these violations that meet the definition of war crimes” and that it “calls for an end to impunity for the perpetrators.”

Sai Khuen Mai said his group has urged the international community to “publicly denounce” the military’s ongoing offensives, which “make a mockery of the peace process,” referring to a recent European Union (EU) delegation’s failure to mention the continuing atrocities that coincided with an EU delegation’s recent visit to Burma.

SHRF’s report said that the rights organization “regrets that the EU diplomatic delegation, which visited Hispaw [east of Kyaukme] on May 16, placed no blame with the Burma Army for the fighting and made no mention of their [the Burma Army’s] ongoing atrocities.”

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the military’s spokesperson for comment on Wednesday.