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Burma’s Regime Attacks Kachin Ethnic Resistance Group, International Community Must Demand End of all Violence and Peaceful Solution through Political Dialogue

By US Campaign for Burma  •  June 15, 2011

The U. S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), a Washington, DC-based human rights organization campaigning to end crimes against humanity and the culture of impunity in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, today strongly demands the international community pressure Burma’s Thein Sein regime to cease all attacks against all ethnic resistance groups on the Thai-Burma border and China-Burma border and press China to allow those fleeing the violence protection and refuge.

On June 9, 2011, fighting erupted between Burma’s military and the former ceasefire group, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA – the army for the Kachin Independence Organization) ending a nearly 20 year old ceasefire. Burma’s regime launched an offensive against KIA troops to exert control over the area nearby the Ta Pein (Taping) River, where a Chinese company is building hydropower projects and dams to provide electricity to China. Fighting continues until today with heavy casualties for the regime’s troops. Under the regime’s indiscriminate shelling of heavy artillery and a massive attack, KIA troops withdrew from their security post and destroyed three bridges to make it difficult for the regime to transport its soldiers further into KIA territory. Both sides have reinforced their troops with additional forces and severe fighting is expected to continue, not only in Kachin State, but also in other ethnic States.

The KIA is considered one of the two largest ethnic ceasefire armies in Burma with more than ten thousand soldiers.  Along with several other ceasefire groups, the KIO refused to agree to the regime’s border guard force plan that would force the majority of their soldiers to disarm and disband, put the small handful that remain under the control of Burmese Army commanders, without any political discussion or demands agreed to.

Since the regime completed its sham election, it was widely believe that it was only a matter of time before the regime attacked the ceasefire groups to end all resistance to its rule.  Last month, the regime began its attack against the Shan State Army-North, another cease-fire group, in Shan State and is now following suit with the KIA.

Several thousand people have already been displaced, used as human shields and forced laborers by the regime’s troops in the conflict in Northern Shan State since the regime’s attacks have continued unabated over the past two months.  As the KIA is much larger, controls more territory and is home to more people, it is widely feared that the resumption of armed conflict in Kachin State will result in larger scale displacement and human rights abuses.

Already reports are coming out that Kachin villagers fleeing the fighting have been denied access to China.  USCB Executive Director Aung Din states, “It is pertinent that China open the border gate in Hp Yin Zhang (Yingjiang), Yunnan and provide protection and refuge to all villagers fleeing the fighting and allow humanitarian aid organizations access to the refugees.”

Aung Din continues, “The problems in Burma are political problems and must be solved through political means.  The Kachin Independence Organization and every other ethnic resistance group want a political solution not a military solution.  The international community, including the U.S. government in its ‘principled pragmatic engagement’ with Burma’s regime, must pressure the regime’s President Thein Sein to halt attacks against all ethnic minorities including the Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Mon, and Karen and work to ensure a political solution to the crisis. A failure to ensure a political solution will result in mass atrocities and prolonged conflict for Burma’s ethnic minorities.”

Media Contact: Jennifer Quigley at (202) 234 8022

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This post is in: Press Release

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