During attacks last week violating the ceasefire with the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), the Burma Army shelled a Buddhist temple in central Shan State, displacing dozens of monks, and turned the temple into a military base.
On June 23, after sending in reconnaissance planes, over 100 troops of Light Infantry Battalions 525 and 569 launched an artillery attack on the village of Wan Warb, 30 kilometers north-west of the SSA-N headquarters at Wan Hai, in Ke See township. Mortar shells (60 mm and 79 mm) damaged the temple and seven houses, injuring four villagers. A 90-year-old woman died of shock when shells hit her house.
The attack caused over 30 monks and novices and about 150 villagers to flee to surrounding areas. The troops looted the temple, as well as residents’ houses, stealing food, money and valuables. Troops from two Burmese battalions are now based at the temple, using it as a military command post.
On June 25, Burmese officers summoned village headmen from nearby villages to the temple and questioned them about Shan troop movements in the area. A man detained for two days was beaten.
On the same day that government troops were shelling the Wan Warb Temple, President Thein Sein’s Office issued a statement blaming TIME magazine for “damaging the image of Buddhism.”
“If President Thein Sein cares about protecting Buddhism, why is he letting his troops shell and desecrate Shan temples?” said Tzarm Noan, Shan Human Rights Foundation coordinator. “Thein Sein’s claims to respect religion are as hollow as his claims to promote peace.”
The attacks are the latest in a series of operations in recent months by the Burma Army to encircle and cut off the Wan Hai headquarters of the SSA-N, in direct violation of their renewed ceasefire agreement in January 2012.
A map and details of human rights violations committed by the Burma Army in Ke See township during June 23-30, 2013, can be viewed on www.shanhumanrights.org
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