An interview with Nan Awan, a female sIDP from Theinni about the situation of IDPs and the damages caused by fighting in Theinni Township.
Since the launch of “Operation 1027” at around 4 am on 27 October, fighting has been taking place in Chinshwehaw, Lashio and Theinni Townships. It is a town that has been declared to be under the control of the Three Brotherhood Alliance and has been relinquished by the military council.
The total number of IDPs has reached nearly 10,000 in Theinni Township due to the fighting between the Three Brotherhood Alliance and the military council. Thousands of locals are left stranded in the fighting. They are in urgent need of ration and medicine as transportation is cut off.
The military council is carrying out attacks by using the IDP camps close to the military outposts in Theinni Township as human shields. About 3,000 people are trapped in these IDP camps. Since 27 October, the military council has cut off electricity, phone lines and internet networks to cover up the news.
The Shan News interviewed Nan Awan, a female IDP in Theinni about the situation of IDPs and the damages caused by fighting in Theinni Township.
Q: Since when did you take shelter at the IDP camp in Theinni? Where did you flee?
A: Hotar, Kaunghaw, Naungawan, Kyaungkham and Kaunglauksauk villages have been destroyed. Since 27 October, I have been taking shelter at an IDP camp in a monastery. It has been two weeks since I have been taking shelter here. Sometimes I have access to the phone line. I lost a lot of property. Houses were hit by bombs. My house has been destroyed. It is not yet known what further damage will occur. The fighting occurred suddenly and I had to run away without bringing anything. The military council’s indiscriminate shootings result in civil casualties. Bullets and heavy shells landed even at the IDP camp. The military council is shooting with the use of jet fighters almost every day.
Q: Where did you live before you fled to Theinni?
A: I lived near Namtu bridge at the entrance to Theinni. On the first day of fighting, they clashed near the bridge in order to take control of it. Bullets and bombs hit the houses. The people were very scared and ran away. On 30 October, the Three Brotherhood Alliance blew up the Namtu Bridge at the entrance to Theinni.
Q: To what extent, do the people suffer losses due to the battle in Theinni Township?
A: There are A lot of losses and damages. Hotar, Kaunghaw, Kyaungkham and Kaunglauksauk villages have been destroyed. No one stays there any longer. Fighting takes place there every day. So, not even a mouse can live there. The Three Brotherhood Alliance has arrived in Kaunghaw and Kyaungkham. Theinni suffered huge losses. A lot of civilian houses were damaged. The houses in urban wards were hit by heavy shells. The southern part of Theinni suffers more damage. On the other bank of Namtu River, there is more damage in the villages next to the main road.
Q: Where do the people from the villages destroyed by fighting flee?
A: They flee to safer places on their own. They are taking refuge in monasteries and huts in the forests. I’m staying at the IDP camp. Run and hide in the forest and live like that. Now I’m just running for my life. I don’t know how many properties will leave. I don’t know how many things are left in the house? I can’t bring anything left at home, such as cars. The main thing is I was afraid of being hit by bullets and heavy shells. Both sides shot near the bridge. Some of them shot from my house and my shop. Both groups came to shoot in my compound.
Now, no one doesn’t dare to stay there. I myself am fleeing now. My property was burgled by the military council. They took all the money and gold wears. I didn’t have to take anything because I had to flee suddenly. I left everything at home. I didn’t think it would take so long. I only took a few items and left them as if nothing would happen if I locked them. Unfortunately, both of them came to fight near the house, and my house was totally destroyed.
Q: What worries do you have as you are currently fleeing? How about security?
A: So far, I have not escaped the battle. There is no security yet. Even if I run away, I can’t go anywhere. I have to move from the IDP camp to the house. We have to hide in the forests. A lot of people have died. The decomposed bodies are found in the bushes. There are many people who have died in the houses as houses were hit by heavy shells. No one doesn’t dare to come to collect the body yet.
Q: Are you still in touch with your families and relatives? What concerns do you have for them?
A: Our families have been divided. I can’t get in touch with them by phone. Some elderly people do not want to flee. They want to stay at home without going anywhere. I will live amid the sounds of gunshots and bombs. There are people who say that. So, I’m worried about them.
Q: What is your difficulty with food? If the fighting period is prolonged, what will be the problem with the availability of food?
A: There are many IDPs in the place where I am taking shelter. I can’t go anywhere. Now I am running for my life. Some people go back to their homes in the morning and go back to the monastery at night to sleep. In the refugee camps of the monastery, in some places, donors are unable to come. So, they can only enjoy one meal a day. In such a place, the availability of food is very difficult. Heavy shells landed in the compound of the monastery and hit the people there. There are even dead bodies that have not yet been buried. People from the houses near the monastery take rice in the morning and return to the monastery at night to cook and eat rice. Now, if you go to the market in the morning, the prices of goods have already gone up 2 or 3 times.
Q: What concerns are there due to fighting?
A: I worry about food. I am still worrying about further deaths. I can’t think anymore. They drop bombs wherever they want. I don’t know who will escape and who will die. Some of them were killed by bombs while they were eating at home. Every day they are killed by bombs without knowing where the bullets suddenly come. I have to be careful with what I do. They are firing heavy shells all day without prior notice. I want both sides to stop fighting as soon as possible. The public is in big trouble. If they really want to fight, they should do it in the forest. Now the people can’t run away and stay at home. The people who want to come in can’t come. The people were very distressed as all four sides were surrounded by the allied forces. Some people are fleeing by crossing creeks and channels by motorbikes through the forests. The people are not in a position to use roads. The people who flee by motorbike have to pay Ks-200,000- Ks-300,000. The sounds of bombs and gunshots were not heard in downtown Theinni. The sounds of bombs and gunshots are heard everywhere. The military council is shooting.
Q: How do you expect the fighting to stop?
A: I want the war to stop. If the war doesn’t stop, all the people will die. They will not be able to repair the damage caused by the battle. They can’t help it, and both sides don’t stop fighting. If one side does not withdraw, the other side will not stop. So I want to ask both sides to stop fighting. During these 14 days and 15 days of displacement, it is time for the people to harvest paddy. Now is the harvesting time. We cannot harvest paddy. It is time to harvest corn. The fruits are to be picked in the mountainous areas. All villagers have to flee the war.
Sent by Shan News