Burma Army Attacks Displace Hundreds From Their Homes
09 October 2023
Karen State, Burma
During the months of June and July, Burma Army soldiers encamped throughout Taw Oo District, Karen State, Burma, have fired large and small weapons directly at villagers and at local high schools. They have also continued conducting airstrikes on civilian areas in the region. It was reported that soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 306, stationed at a camp near Shasaebo Village, and soldiers from Infantry Battalion (IB) 73, based in Za Ya Gyi, often fire small arms directly at farmers who go out into the fields to forage. Last year it was reported that soldiers from Burma Army IB 73 killed 20 people by directly shooting them.
On 14 June 2023, at about 10:45 p.m., Burma Army soldiers from LIB 306 fired a heavy weapon on Htoe Lwee Wah Community High School. Three of the students were injured: Nawthiri Kung San, 15 years old, was injured on her left forearm; Snow White, 14 years old, and Naw Mayda Gay, 16 years old, were both injured on their heads. This is the first time that a large weapon has been fired on Htoe Lwee Wah school and this is the first time that there has been damage. There are about 150 students in the high school and many other education staff and health volunteers. There is also a medical clinic opened by Karen Department of Health and Wellness in the area of the school.
Starting 5 July 2023, a local FBR team went to bring help, hope, and love to 486 villagers who had been displaced by Burma Army violence. The Rangers were able to visit four different villages in Hta T’Bin Township of Taw Oo District. The villagers in this area have had to flee their homes twice in the last decade. Most recently they fled their homes in February 2023 due to Burma Army units that would open fire on their villages with heavy weaponry while transporting supplies to two of their camps in the area: Buzakhi camp and Thin Shu Taung camp.
In these rainy season months, the internally displaced person (IDP) needs have multiplied. Eighteen teachers are doing their best to teach 253 children in the rainy jungle under make-shift shelters. IDPs in this region are facing illnesses ranging from the common cold and anemia, to ailments such as malaria, snake bites, parasites, and more. The closest clinic is a day-long hike and there is only one person among this IDP population who has very basic medical knowledge.
To assist with these needs, the FBR team was able to medically treat a total of 410 villagers. There were not enough supplies to go around, so the team provided assistance primarily to the elderly, pregnant women, people with disabilities and teachers. The teams conducted a Good Life Club (GLC) program in each village and helped village elders with communication in order to know Burma Army movement. Many lives were spared when the FBR team helped evacuate civilians in the Yado/Tatkone area before the Burma Army fighter jets came to bomb a Roman Catholic church and convent on 22 July 2023 at 1315 hours. Though the building destruction was great, no one was injured or killed.
The team plans to go to more villages to assist others who have recently been displaced by Burma Army airstrikes. Please continue to pray, as the Burma Army bombings continue falling on the civilian and internally displaced populations in Karen State, for strength and hope for the people and the FBR teams bringing them help, as well as for a change of heart for the Burma Army.
Thanks and God bless you,
Free Burma Rangers