Over 170 civilians resettled to a nearby community on Tuesday after their own village in northern Shan State was burned by the Burma Army twice in less than 30 days.
Bang Gan village, in Nam Tu Township, was once home to 35 ethnic Ta’ang households. The displaced have built makeshift shelters on nearby paddy fields and resettled in a monastery in another village, Wan San, preferring to stay near their ancestral land rather than relocate to a city.
Villagers told SHAN that in mid-November, about 300 government troops from Battalion 88 accused Bang Gan’s residents of supporting the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), with whom SHAN reported that the Burma Army has been fighting in renewed clashes in the area.
One 37-year-old local man, Ai La, was detained by the Burma Army and forced to work as a porter. The villagers allege that on November 13 he was killed in a clash with the TNLA.
“The battle happened at a distance from the village,” said one villager, Ai Yi. “After that, the Burma Army burned our village on November 14 and 29.”
When government forces set fire to Bang Gan village for the first time, locals said that not all households were destroyed. However, after the second attack, the entire community was made inhabitable. Between and after the incidents, residents said they hid in the nearby forest.
Due to ongoing active conflict, it was not until December 8 that SHAN was able to obtain photos of the burned land and houses in Bang Gan.
“We ran away and took nothing,” said the village head, who did not want to provide his name.
Among the displaced are Ai La’s wife and young children—a three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter.
According to The Border Consortium and Burma Link, in the last 20 years, more than 3,700 villages in Burma have been destroyed and its residents forced to relocate. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that Burma’s population of internally displaced people is well over 500,000.
By SIMMA FRANCIS and ZAAI ZAAI LAO MURNG / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)