Tatmadaw soldiers have stopped internally displaced persons (IDPs) from returning to their homes in Mong Kung following a series of clashes between government forces and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) that caused them to flee for their safety.
The IDPs were among the 500 people who had been seeking refuge in monasteries in Ham Ngai village tract, where the clashes began on February 27.
Accompanied by state MP for Mong Kung Township Sai Pan, they attempted to return to Kon Nyawng Hpa Hser village on Wednesday, but were blocked by government troops.
“When we arrived at Hpa Pao village, the government soldiers didn’t allow us to go further. The soldiers told us that they wouldn’t allow us to continue, for security reasons,” Sai Pan told SHAN.
According to Sai Pan, houses and shops were ransacked and looted by soldiers in Koong Nyawng Hpa Hsa while villagers fled to monasteries following the firing of heavy weapons near the village.
A few locals discovered the theft and damage when they returned to the community to feed the livestock that they had left behind. More wanted to inspect the state of their homes on March 4, joined by the MP.
“We were going to see the damage to houses and shops, and the looting. Local villagers were going to feed their pigs and cows. But the army didn’t allow us to go there,” the MP explained.
The Burma Army and the RCSS have had multiple clashes in Ham Ngai village tract, where Koong Nyawng Hpa Hsa is located, since the end of February. While fighting was not breaking out at the time of reporting, tension remains high in the area, with government troops on patrol.
“We are still afraid to return. Soldiers shot at us when we went to feed our pigs and cows the day before yesterday,” Koong Nyawng Hpa Hsa local Sai Kyein told SHAN, referring to an incident which occurred on Monday. “Some villagers were arrested. We tried to return home together with our state parliamentarian, but the soldiers didn’t allow us to return.
Of staying in the monastery with hundreds of other internally displaced persons, Sai Kyein said, ”it is difficult to live here.” Those in displacement want to return to their homes and tend to their land, he explained.