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Burma/Myanmar: Geneva Call urges an end to mine use in northern Shan State

14th July 2016 | Burma-Myanmar - Landmine ban

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Reports indicate an apparent sharp increase in landmine incidents in northern Shan State, despite commitments made by armed actors not to use these devices.

To date in 2016, 14 such incidents have already resulted in 12 civilian deaths and 29 injuries.  By comparison, in all of 2015, 8 documented incidents led to 4 deaths and 18 injuries.  A recent incident publicized on 6 July, reported one villager was killed and seven injured when a landmine exploded in Namtu Township .

The reported ‘spike’ in incidents strongly suggests that they are not the legacy of previous mine use but are the direct result of ongoing and active mine use in northern Shan State. At the same time, armed actors active in affected townships– the Government’s Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), the Shan State Army,  the military wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS)) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA, military wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF)) are all bound by agreements that prohibit mine use . 

The PSLF signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel landmines in 2007.  Since 2014, Geneva Call has been pursuing enquiries about allegations of mine use made against the TNLA and has requested that concerned parties agree to facilitate a field-level investigation.  Although the PSLF agreed, a response from the Government has not been forthcoming.

Although neither the Government nor the RCSS have categorically banned the use of mines, both signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October of last year.  The terms of the NCA include a provision that bars signatories from laying mines in ceasefire areas.

Landmine use wreaks a heavy toll on individual victims, their families and the communities they live in. Geneva Call urges all parties to live up to their commitments and desist from using these weapons and also urges all armed actors in Myanmar to adhere at all times to international humanitarian norms in order to lessen the burden of conflict on civilians and help end the suffering endured by conflict-affected communities throughout Myanmar.