Burma Action Ireland calls for end to Burma Army attacks on Kachin people

08 Jun 2012

Burma Action Ireland (BAI) calls upon President Thein Sein and Burma’s Army to stop its attacks on the people of Kachin State, to allow access to humanitarian aid for internally displaced persons and to initiate a meaningful political dialogue with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).

Tomorrow, Saturday (9th June), marks the first year anniversary of the military offensive launched by Burma’s Army on 9th June 2011, ending a 17-year ceasefire in Kachin State in Northern Burma. The ceasefire was broken by the Burma Army when the KIO refused to transform its armed wing into a government-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF).

In the past year, Burma’s Army has targeted civilians in Kachin State as part of their military operations against the KIO. Human rights violations committed by Burmese army soldiers against civilians living in the conflict area include burned villages, rape, forced labour, torture and killings. There are currently around 75,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in squalid conditions without access to assistance from local or international aid organizations.

These violations have been documented by various organizations since the fighting began. The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) documented an example in which just last month an ethnic Kachin woman, a 48-year-old mother of twelve, was stabbed, beaten and gang-raped by Burmese army soldiers in a church over a period of three days.

The previous 17-year ceasefire saw a fragile peace in Kachin State; however, it did not resolve the root problems, namely the lack of democracy and equality for the ethnic people of Burma. These problems need a political solution and thus a political dialogue, yet this has never been afforded to the people of Kachin State. The KIO has made repeated attempts to negotiate a lasting peace in Kachin State. However, the current administration has rejected the KIO’s request to discuss long-term political solutions prior to a ceasefire agreement.

Eileen Seymour of Burma Action Ireland says “In the last year, Burma’s current administration has taken some positive steps towards reform: Aung San Suu Kyi is now a Member of Parliament; some political prisoners, including well-known dissidents have been released; and media restrictions have been relaxed. However, the people of Kachin State have been subjected to a relentless offensive by the Burmese army and suffered human rights violations which may be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law. We are calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Éamon Gilmore to work with his EU counterparts and the international community to put pressure on President Thein Sein to end the oppression of the Kachin people and to initiate a meaningful political dialogue.”

As part of the Global Day of Action for the Kachin people, Burma solidarity groups, human rights organisations and Kachin groups and communities around the world sent a letter to President Thein Sein this week, urging him to end the Burmese army’s attacks on Kachin people and to protect civilians, to immediately allow access to humanitarian aid, and to initiate a meaningful political dialogue with the Kachin Independence Organisation and the people of Kachin State in order to achieve sustainable peace and address the issue of equality and democracy for ethnic people.

For further information:
Eileen Seymour - Burma Action Ireland: 087 126 1857

Burma Action Ireland

email: info@burmaactionireland.org web: www.burmaactionireland.org