Efforts to Help Shan State IDPs Hampered in Parliament

By Lawi Weng 27 May 2016

RANGOON — A Ta’ang National Party lawmaker sought to submit a proposal to the Union Parliament to stop fighting in Shan State so that children in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps could attend school this year, but her efforts were denied.

Nan Moe, a lawmaker for Mongton Township, said that Lower House Speaker Win Myint would only allow her to make her appeal in the form of a question on Wednesday.

“[The government] may not be able to achieve peace for all people in conflict areas, but I want them to help children at IDP camps who haven’t been able to study,” she said.

“[The House Speaker] didn’t tell me why I couldn’t make a proposal or even why I could ask a question. I went to the Parliament office to ask, but they couldn’t give me an answer.”

According to Nan Moe, thousands of children in northern Shan State have been forced from their homes because of ongoing fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic armed groups, including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Children in IDP camps are often prevented from studying because of these clashes. Nan Moe said that some 300 IDP children in the Hsipaw area have not had access to education.

“I was sad that I couldn’t submit [a proposal] to Parliament. A lot of people from my area expect me to help them,” she said. “I feel guilty that I couldn’t help them.”

Nan Moe is not the first lawmaker to face challenges from Parliament when it comes to bringing more attention to helping people in IDP camps. Khin Saw Wai, with the Arakan National Party (ANP), saw her proposal to inquire into how Parliament intends to help IDPs in Arakan State turned down. The house speaker told her that it was unclear whether she was focusing on aiding IDPs or bringing the Arakan Army (AA) to the peace negotiation table.

“I made sure I had a lot of facts and witnesses included in my proposal and even sought help with collecting from state lawmakers the number of IDPs, but no success,” Nan Moe said.

There is much chatter about projects to be included in the government’s 100-day plan. While Nan Moe said that she will wait to see if there is a project aimed at helping IDP children receive an education, she admitted that she has yet to hear about any such endeavor.