Monday, May 25, 2009

Junta’s violations severe in Northern Burma: CSW

by Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Christian Solidarity Worldwide, an advocacy group, said human rights violations continue to be grave in areas where ethnic minorities live and have come out with fresh accounts of violations during their field trip to Northern Burma.

CSW, in a report released after their three-week field trip to Kachin state in northern Burma, said they heard horrifying testimonies from victims of human rights violations committed by the ruling junta’s army.

“The situation in Kachin State is bad, we found first hand evidence of rape, religious discrimination, land confiscation and human trafficking,” Benedict Rogers, CSW’s South Asia Advocacy officer, told Mizzima.

He said, during their trip, they were able to meet victims of rape, religious discrimination and people whose land were confiscated by the army.

During the trip, from the end of April to the first week of May, 2009, the CSW team was also able to meet the Kachin Independent Organization, an armed rebel group fighting for self-determination but which has a ceasefire pact with the junta.

Rogers, who was the team leader visiting Burma, said they have seen ethnic Kachin people living under constant fear, especially women, as they fall easy prey to Burmese soldiers and no one dares to intervene as they are scared of the Burmese soldiers.

“Despite the ceasefire, human rights violations continue and people suffer,” said Rogers, referring to the more than one decade old ceasefire agreement between the KIO and the Burmese junta.

The KIO in 1994 entered into a ceasefire agreement with the ruling junta on grounds that continued war had devastated the people. But their expectations were belied because the pact turned out to be worse than the people expected as the junta’s army slowly expanded in the areas, which were earlier controlled by the rebel group.

The KIO was officially banned from making fresh recruitments.

During their visit, Rogers said, he met a 21-year old Bible school student, who narrated her experience of being raped by two Burmese soldiers, and how she is left helpless.

The girl apparently did not get any compensation and the perpetrator went unpunished.

“Every woman should be careful. My experience is an example for other girls … I want justice to be done,” the CSW quoted the girl as saying in its press release on May 22.

The girl did file a case at three different military courts and requested for investigations but there hasn’t been any action or compensation except 100,000 Kyats she received for medical care, a rice bag and cooking oil, she said.

“Many rape cases in Kachin State go unreported because victims are afraid and to ashamed to report it. There are many more cases we don’t know about,” said Rogers.

“No women are safe in Kachin State,” he added.

Rogers said, even the KIO, cannot provide protection to their people except within their controlled areas, said Rogers.

In July last year, Burmese soldiers reportedly raped and murdered a 15 year old girl, Nhkum Hkawn, from the Din Nam Sai villiage in Kachin State but the army closed the case after paying the girl’s parents of 500,000 Kyats (US$ 500) as compensation and took no action against the accused soldiers.

Awng Wa, Chairman of the Kachin Development Networking Group (KDNG), which is working inside Burma said, human rights abuses such as rape, torture, forced labour and land confiscation are common and are not strange in Kachin State.

“You can hear of rape cases everywhere, if there is a military camp set up. But no one dares to complain because they are afraid that it could create a backlash with more repression,” said Awng Wa.

“Instead of getting support or action, the authorities usually punish the complainants. So many cases have gone under reported,” he added.

He said, before the ceasefire between the military government and the Kachin Independent Organization and its armed wing the Kachin Independent Army(KIO/A), which represent the Kachin people, there were human rights violations of the highest order within the ethnic people and after ceasefire abuses continue.

“Land confiscation and forced labour are common too,” said Awng Wa. He said, forced labour, however, changes during war into use of porters but during peace, people have been forced to cultivate physic nut trees.

The report also talks about the plight of Chin refugees. Rogers, who had also visited Malaysia and met Chin refugees, said life of Chin refugees is not favourable as they live and work in deplorable conditions.

“The situation in Northern and Western Burma of Kachin and Chin State, have gone unknown and are ignored by many in the world,” said Rogers.

“It is time that their voices were heard, and that the international community responded to the political, social, humanitarian and environmental disaster in northern and western Burma,” said Rogers in the press statement.

“The international community needs to know that the ceasefire areas are not really in peace. People in ceasefire areas are really suffering seriously,” Rogers told Mizzima.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too