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Untold Miseries: Wartime Abuses and Forced Displacement in Kachin State

By Human Rights Watch  •  March 20, 2012

In his March 2011 inauguration speech, Burmese President Thein Sein emphasized the importance of ending Burma’s several ethnic armed conflicts, declaring that more than 60 years of ethnic warfare in Burma were due to “dogmatism, sectarian strife, and racism.” Burma’s ethnic minorities had, he said, experienced “the hell of untold miseries.”

Despite his words, the miseries continue for the ethnic minority Kachin population in Burma’s northern Kachin State.
After 17 years of a ceasefire in Kachin State, the Burmese armed forces launched offensive military operations in June 2011 against the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA), leading to a humanitarian crisis affecting tens of thousands of
civilians, against whom the Burmese army is committing serious abuses. Military operations by both sides have continued despite a presidential request that the army cease attacks against the KIA and only fire in self-defense. Over the last six months of 2011, Human Rights Watch travelled twice to areas in Kachin State, visiting nine camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), and to areas in China’s Yunnan province where refugees have fled. This report draws on more than 100 interviews conducted during those visits with displaced persons, refugees, and victims of abuses, as well as KIA representatives, Burmese army deserters, and humanitarian aid workers. We have continued monitoring events on the ground and have conducted follow-up research through March 2012.

Kachin civilians described to Human Rights Watch how Burmese army soldiers have attacked Kachin villages, razed homes, pillaged properties, and forced the displacement of tens of thousands of people. Troops have deliberately and indiscriminately fired on Kachin civilians with small arms and mortars. According to one 40-year-old Kachin woman, for
example, soldiers on November 10, 2011, “shot mortars into our village three times.… So we fled.” A Burmese army
deserter described how his battalion deliberately shelled Dingga village with 81 mm mortars so that inhabitants would
run away. “It was intended that way,” he said.

Download the full report here.

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This post is in: Crimes Against Humanity, Military Regime

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