Internally displaced people (IDPs) who sought refuge in Thirimingla Mansu monastery in Lashio, northern Shan State, returned home this week to tend to their crops, despite being afraid of continued conflict.
Members of the Tai Youth Organization said that clashes between ethnic armed groups and the Burma Army had paused in Lashio Township, which people saw as a window to return to their land.
“There are no clashes in Lashio Township, actually. They are afraid of the Burma Army. Military columns have been active around their villages,” Sai Harn, who works with the Tai Youth Organization, told SHAN. “Even though they have fear, they have to return home because they need to work on their paddy fields.
Sai Harn said that IDPs had told him they “were afraid to be killed like Loong Aye,” in reference to a man who died in Kon Hser village this month when a Burma Army shell landed in the community.
“The army opens fire with heavy weapons in random directions,” he said, as to why the villagers were afraid of going home even without clashes in the immediate vicinity.
The villagers who returned this week were from Kon Hser and Martnuchi, and went back beginning on Sunday.
“Even though I am afraid, I have to return home. I am living by praying. I have to make merit for my late husband,” Nang Keng, the wife of deceased villager Loong Aye, told SHAN.
Local sources have said that clashes are ongoing along the Kutkai-Muse highway in northern Shan State, and IDPs in Kutkai have not tried to home yet.