An estimated 10,000 villagers were driven from their homes in August as part of the Burmese military regime’s scorched-earth campaign in central Shan State. Troops burned down over 500 houses, scores of granaries, and forcibly relocated almost 40 villages, mostly in Laikha township. Over 100 villagers were arrested and tortured. One young woman was shot while trying to retrieve her possessions from her burning house, and her body thrown into a pit latrine. Another woman was gang-raped in front of her husband by an officer and three of his troops.
This is the largest forced relocation since 1996-98, when over 300,000 villagers were uprooted in southern and central Shan State. ‘The regime brazenly committed these crimes even as the whole world was watching them during the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,’ says Charm Tong of The Shan Women’s Action Network. ‘They are thumbing their noses at the international community.’