CSOs Call on Rebels, Myanmar Military to End Fighting

By Zarni Mann 2 September 2019

MANDALAY—Civil society organizations (CSOs) in northern Shan States on Monday called on all armed groups, including the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw), to take responsibility for the indiscriminate shelling of a village that killed at least eight civilians in recent armed clashes.

The group also called on all involved in the fighting to identify and punish the individual responsible for a mortar blast in Kutkai Township’s Mawhit village over the weekend that struck the homes of and killed an 18-year-old mother and her four-month-old daughter and a 34-year-old mother and her adolescent son and daughter.

“We strongly condemn the targeting of civilians, the killing and injuring of the innocent, the breaking of national and international laws and the abuse of human rights that have brought distress and eliminated the safety and stability of local populations,” the statement, issued by the Humanitarian Strategic Team of Northern Shan State (HST-NSS), said.

HST-NSS spokesperson Ma Bauk Kawng said recent events have traumatized locals, who are terrified to remain at home but also terrified of venturing out in the face of ongoing clashes.

“We want both parties [the ethnic arms groups and the military] to end the fighting immediately and unconditionally. We also urge them to end their human rights abuses in the region, where they are targeting civilians and firing into villages and towns [indiscriminately],” she said Ma Bauk Kawng.

The team—which includes the Ta’ang Women’s Organization, Ta’ang Student and Youth Union, Tai Youth Network, Kachin Youth Organization and 22 other CSOs operating in northern Shan State—also called for an immediate end to all current fighting.

The HST-NSS statement urged both ethnic armed groups and the Tatmadaw to accept responsibility for civilian injuries and deaths—including that of a CSO volunteer—and to compensate those whose homes have been destroyed in the shelling.

They also demanded legal action be taken against those responsible for individual civilian deaths.

“We just want both parties to respect humanity and human rights and law, and to take responsibility for what they’ve done. We will keep urging them until they show respect and take responsibility,” Ma Bauk Kawn said.

Armed clashes have been escalating in northern Shan State since an Aug. 15 series of attacks by an alliance of ethnic armed rebels targeted police and security outposts and toll gates in Shan State and the military’s Defense Service Technological Academy in Pyin Oo Lwin, in Mandalay Region.

The rebel groups, known as the Brotherhood Alliance, includes Northern Alliance members the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDA).