Friday, March 1, 2024

Silent Suffering and Loss in the Shadows of Evil Wars

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“Oh, my dearest daughter, how can I find solace? What must I do to hear your voice again? Open your eyes and talk to me,” mourned Nang Ngwe Hla, a mother of a diseased girl immersed in grief, her words echoing in Shan. She hasn’t seen her daughter for over eight years because she has been working in another country.

Her 11 years old daughter Nang Hseng, who was residing in Kaung Kan village under Mine Tin village track in Lashio township, was killed instantly due to the indiscriminate artillery shelling carried out by the SAC regime on the early morning of November 9.

Tragically, she was not the sole casualty of this devastating incident; a 60-year-old woman named Nai Moon and a 40-year-old Nang Shwe also lost their lives.

Nang Hseng’s parents had separated when she was merely 3 years old. Her mother then went to work in Thailand, leaving Nang Hseng in the care of her father in their Shan State village.

Prior to the tragic incident that claimed Nang Hseng’s life, she and her father, Sai Tar, sought refuge in the monastery within Kaung Kan village.

“We would spend our nights in the monastery. In the morning, we’d return home to prepare our food, have breakfast, and then bring food back to the monastery,” shared Sai Tar, his voice heavy with grief.

Nang Hseng’s father was cooking at home on the morning of the tragic incident, as the sound of shelling echoed in the background. Given the frequent sounds of explosions, he, concerned for their safety, urged his daughter to return to the monastery—a place he deemed safer. However, instead of immediately heading back, she lingered for a while at the house of an elderly acquaintance, seeking warmth from the fireplace.

“We were back at our house making breakfast that morning. When we heard the explosions, I asked my daughter to go back and stay in the monastery. Instead of going immediately, she passed by the house of an elderly woman and gathered around the fires to get warm. As soon as I heard an explosion, I rushed to that house. I saw my daughter lying beside the fireplace. I held onto hope that she would still be alive, but…” shared Sai Aik Tar, the father of Nang Hseng, recounting the tragic experience with profound sorrow.

The video call between the mother and her child before the later got killed by bomb
The video call between the mother and her child before the later got killed by bomb.

As a father who lost his daughter during a brief return home, Sai Aik Thar has been grappling with profound suffering, unable to escape the clutches of this tragic accident.

“My emotions and blood were boiling, and if I had had a gun in my hand that day, I would have taken part in the shooting,” confessed Sai Aik Thar, his voice trembling with the weight of sorrow and frustration.

“I have been working in Thailand for the past seven years, with the hope of providing my daughter a better life. But now, I have lost my daughter because of the shelling,” expressed Nang Ngwe Hla, the grieving mother, sharing her sorrow both verbally and through multiple posts on social media.

From the same incident, Nang Shwe, a 40-year-old who had been in the midst of cooking, fell victim to a nearby shell blast. Tragically, she lost one of her legs and passed away due to severe blood loss shortly after arriving at the hospital.

This incident followed the “1027” operation initiated by the three-brotherhood alliance on October 27. The operation aimed to seize control of main towns, dismantle the military authoritarian regime, and eliminate widespread online gambling along the Myanmar-China border area. The ongoing operations and conflicts have resulted in casualties on both sides, causing significant losses for civilians, including damage to homes, residential areas, and properties.

In these circumstances, the SAC regime has been launching heavy weapons, including airstrikes, arbitrarily and indiscriminately. As a result, the civilian population suffers the most from these needless losses and lives, lamented a resident of Lashio

According to data compiled by the Shan Herald Agency, over 100 people have lost their lives in the aftermath of the “1027 operation,” with more than half of them being women and children.
It’s worth noting that the actual number of casualties on the ground might be higher than what the S.H.A.N is able to document.

A similar incident struck Wan Mai village in Lashio Township, as recounted by Nang Moon (not her real name). “I was awakened by the loud sound of a major explosion and the noise of people. I hurriedly got up and ran out to assess the situation. There, I saw a child lying in the arms of their father,” Nang Moon said, her voice mournful as she described the terrifying encounter.

In other similar incidents, young individuals aged 15 and 19 were abruptly awakened from their deep sleep in the middle of the night, their legs bearing injuries and bloodstains from the shelling near the house where they were sleeping.

These injured youths are internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Wan Mai village. On the night of the incident, they were swiftly evacuated in the dark to receive treatment at Ho Pate village, close to Wan Mai, the site of the shelling. A total of nine people managed to fit into a private car for the evacuation.

“We had to rush to the hospital that very night, leaving at around 12:20 midnight. We had to drive carefully because of the darkness, and we reached the designated village around 2 A.M. to get the injured individuals treated,” shared Nang Moon, describing their challenging experience.

According to the UNHCR humanitarian coordination office announcement, there are over eighty thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs) from twelve townships in northern Shan due to clashes between the SAC’s troops and the three-brotherhood alliances under the “1027 operation.”

However, the numbers continue to rise in certain IDP camps as people flee the ongoing fighting everyday.

Moreover, there is an additional risk to civilians as combatants from both sides often blend in with the population, exposing civilians to the danger of being caught in crossfires if fighting breaks out.
Thus, it appears that the Shan people are averse to engaging in conflicts that result in significant losses, causing them to be separated from their family members, friends, and loved ones. This sentiment holds true even when the fighting is carried out under the banner of “rooting out military authoritarianism.”

“If it is possible, we want the armed clashes and fighting to end soon and stop soon,” demanded one of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lashio township.

While understanding that everyone will face separation eventually, it is particularly inconsolable when individuals at a young age are taken not due to poor health or other natural reasons but by artillery. This reality is both frightening and unbearable, whispered the mother of a young victim, Nang Ngwe, in Shan.

“When I was separated from my daughter for the first time, I held onto the belief that we would meet again. This is the second time I have been separated from my daughter, but this time the departure is permanent. My daughter had to die because of this war,” Nang Ngwe Hla stated mournfully.

As long as wars and conflicts persist, mothers like Nang Ngwe Hla will continue to endure similar tragedies, living with the constant worry of whether they would have to part from their children or if their children would be taken away from them.

“As long as there are wars and armed clashes, either children will be orphaned, or parents will lose their children. So I wish there were sympathies. I have lost my daughter to this war, so I hope that these wars and armed clashes are resolved soon,” demanded Nan Ngwe Hla, who had tragically lost her daughter.

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