By: Jessica Ties
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
NAYPYIDAW, Burma – Burma’s military has been accused of killing, attacking and exploiting Kachin civilians since hostilities between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) began five months ago.
Abuses by Burmese soldiers have caused an estimated 30,000 Kachin civilians to become displaced after being forced to flee their homes in fear of the army.
One farmer described his ordeal by explaining that they “…were afraid to live in the village so we went to hide in the jungle…we lived there for one month…” Another villager reported that Burmese soldiers are now living in the homes of those who were forced to flee after their village was invaded by the army.
Among the abuses causing citizens to flee their homes is the unnecessary killing of civilians. In one case, Burmese soldiers entered Hang Htak village in search of KIA members and killed a fifty-two year old woman and her four year old grandson in their home as they tried to leave. There have also been reports of military forces entering villages and aimlessly firing their weapons at civilians.
Other civilians stated that they were held and aggressively interrogated by Burmese soldiers who threatened to kill them. One villager stated, “I was very afraid when they [soldiers] came and asked questions. I was afraid they would kill us.”
Some civilians have also reported being raped or witnessing a rape by soldiers. According to the September 2011 report to the United Nations by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, at least eighteen women and young girls have been “gang- raped” by the Burmese military and at least four of those victims were killed.
Those who survive encounters with the army have often reported being forced to work for the military without compensation. One woman reported that the army forced her to carry provisions up a steep two mile road despite the fact that she was six months pregnant. She stated that they were forced to make the strenuous three hour trek twice a day and were forced to eat their own food because they were not fed by the army.
Violence by the Burmese army has caused many Kachin civilians to attempt to flee into China. In response, the Chinese government has deployed 2,000 troops to the border to prevent refugees from entering the country and has also prevented the transfer of food and medical supplies to areas where over 20, 000 displaced Kachin are taking shelter.
Fighting between the Burmese army and the KIA erupted on June 9th after a seventeen year ceasefire between the ethnic Kachin and the Burmese government forces. The KIA has stated that they will not stop fighting until Burma agrees to allow the ethnic group full political power and other rights.
For more information, please see:
Chinland Guardian – Churces Attacked, Women Raped and Civilians Killed in Kachin State – 22 October 2011
Radio Free Asia – Renewed Clashes Near Chinese Border – 20 October 2011
Asian Correspondent – Burma’s Civil War: Who is Really Pulling the Strings? – 19 October 2011
Human Rights Watch – Burma: Army Committing Abuses in Kachin State – 18 October 2011