Friday, August 18, 2017

Hsipaw IDPs protest fighting

Over 100 refugees displaced by ongoing fighting gathered in Thibaw/Hsipaw township yesterday to protest the clashes that have kept them from returning to their homes.

IDPS protest outside of Hsipaw Boe Daw Monastery on May 30.SuppliedIDPS protest outside of Hsipaw Boe Daw Monastery on May 30.Supplied

The protesters held up white placards reading “Stop the war”, “Solve conflict peacefully” and “Let children go to school”.

They were not given official permission for the demonstration.

‘’At first, the IDPs wanted to protest by marching around the township. But when we approached the township administration, they told us to wait five days for a permit. But the IDPs don’t want to wait,” said U Myint Thein, a member of the Civil Ceasefire Watch Committee in Hsipaw who helped organise the protest.

“People want to go back to their homes and their children’s schools,” he added.

Instead of the planned march, the protesters held up placards at the gates of the monastery where they have sought temporary shelter.

“They just held the cards to express their feelings and stood in front of the monastery,” said U Dol Lar, a member of the Civil Ceasefire Watch Committee.

“Now the school season is starting and we don’t know what to do about the IDP children’s education,” he added.

Over 1100 IDPs have taken refuge throughout Hsipaw township since third week of May. Among those IDPs, 280 are currently staying at the Hsipaw Boe Daw Monastery due to ongoing fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Shan State Army-North.

Soldiers have forbidden villagers from returning.

“On May 28, the soldiers told us it’s still a war zone and not safe yet when we sent food for Khaung Mai villagers who decided to stay at the local monastery to protect their village,” said Sai Kham Pan, from the Shan Literature and Cultural Organisation of Hsipaw.