A Ta'ang Women’s Organisation have said that their ethnic community are facing increasing human rights abuses due to an increased military presence and growing opium production.
Dede Poe Kyein, general secretary of the Ta'ang Women Organisation, made the remark during a discussion on ‘Citizens' Participation in the Peace Process’ held at the J-School in Yangon on Tuesday.
"Rather than changes, the local people are facing more hardships due to military attacks. There are also many human rights abuses. The people are always thinking about when the bullets will enter their homes or hit their heads. So they don't know about participating in the peace processes," said Dede Poe Kyein.
The Palaung State Liberation Army from the Ta'ang area in northern Shan State signed ceasefire agreement with the government in 1991 and laid down their arms in 2005.
While the situation was bad in the past, Ta’ang organisations say that it was not as bad as now due to increasing military attacks and a surge of opium production.
After 2010, the opium cultivation and smuggling grew worse and young people and women have become addicted. Politicians have been promising to allow the Ta'ang people to grow poppies because of the huge profits.
"[Poppy cultivation] is mostly found in Kutkai and Nanhkan townships because there are the people's militias in those townships. People in those areas have been doing opium cultivations and smuggling them by relying on the people's militias," said Dede Poe Kyein.
Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) vice-chairperson Tar Gyoke Jar also said the skirmishes and opium cultivation have increased after the new government took office.
Over 300 skirmishes have taken place between the military and the TNLA since the new government took office, despite the ceasefire.
The military have doubled the number of troops in Palaung area in 2013. The military buildup is linked to the government's attempts to secure large-scale investment projects in ethnic areas, including the Shwe oil and gas pipelines, which started sending gas to China in June 2013, according to "An Unseen Crisis" report released by the Ta'ang Women Organisation at the end of February this year.