Eighth landmine blast this year in Yebyu

October 11, 2019

HURFOM: A landmine blast occurred in the Kyaung Shar Kwin area, near Alae Sakhan village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division at 3 pm, October 7, 2019.

A 35-year-old local resident sustained an injury in the blast. While digging for elephant foot yams on his plantation he stepped on a landmine and suffered a non-life threatening injury, according to Nai Tin San, the Administrator of Alae Sakhan village.

An uncle of the survivor of the blast explained that, “… the two brothers went to their plantation to (harvest) elephant foot yams …. (when) he stepped on a landmine. He was blown away by the blast. His elder brother helped him back to their hut and on their way back, they saw another landmine.”

The survivor broke his left leg in the blast and was admitted to the Ye General Hospital.

We sent him to Ye hospital and also informed the authorities (about the landmines,” said Nai Tin San.

The area is jointly controlled by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen National Union (KNU).

Landmines have frequently exploded in the Kyaung Shar Kwin area and local villagers have called on the KNU and NMSP to remove the landmines. While both parties have held a series of negotiations to address this issue, no action plan to remove landmines has yet to be developed.

The Tenasserim Joint (Ceasefire) Monitoring Committee (JMC) has also not been successful to resolve the problem.

According to Nai Tin San, the KNU and NMSP have had arguments related to wood production in the area.

Regarding landmines, we already reported to the particular authorities in the past but they did nothing,” said Nai Tin San.

Between October 15, 2018 and January 7, 2019, there were 7 landmine blasts in the Kyaung Shar Kwin area. Due to the frequent landmine blasts, villagers have been afraid of going to their plantations, resulting in financial losses.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has documented that both the military and various Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) have used landmines since 2017 in Myanmar.

According to the publication Land Mine & Cluster Munitions Monitor, the Myanmar authorities have denied reports that government forces used antipersonnel landmines in 2017 and 2018, despite evidence from the United Nations (UN) and others. 

In 2018 Myanmar attended, as an observer, the Seventeenth Meeting of State Parties to the Antipersonnel Landmine Ban Convention held in Geneva.  The attending government representative to this meeting made the statement, Myanmar “recognized the importance of the convention in putting an end to the human suffering caused by antipersonnel landmines and in saving lives, returning hope and human dignity.”

The United National Mine Ban Treaty is one of the world’s most widely accepted treaties: over 80% of the world’s countries are States Parties to the treaty. Myanmar is not yet a signatory to the Treaty. 

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has noted that the use of these weapons indiscriminately maims or kills civilians and landmines impede social and economic development by preventing communities from fully utilizing their lands and resources. The placement of landmines also deters internally displaced persons and refugees from returning to their homes.

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