At a time when communities are trying to protect themselves against the coronavirus, villagers in Burma’s northern Sagaing Region are worried about fighting between the Burma Army and the Shanni Nationalities Army (SNA).
“We don’t want war during the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Hsur Sai Lin, from Chaung Gyi, located in Homalin township.
Col Hsur Sai Tun, the SNA spokesperson, told SHAN they fought with the Burma Army very close to Chaung Gyi on April 17 and 18. They shouldn’t be creating problems during a pandemic, he said. “The situation remains tense after the Burma Army sent in reinforcements.”
During a virtual press conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked combatants around the world to stop fighting with each other and focus on fighting the coronavirus. “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives..to help create corridors for life-saving aid.”
A statement by SNA yesterday criticized the Burma Army for saying the Shanni group was recruiting soldiers, forcing villagers to be porters, and torturing and killing them. “We want the Burma Army to stop spreading false information about the SNA in Homalin township,” Col Hsur Sai Tun told SHAN.
SNA fought with the Burma Army in Homalin township in 2017, and in 2016 clashed near the Burma-Indian border.
The SNA formed in 1989 and maintains troops on the upper part of Chindwin River and along the Indian border in Sagaing Region, and in Kachin State. The Shanni group wants to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government.