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Kachin urge world to address their conflict

Originally appeared in Bangkok Post

June 9, 2012

Myanmar ethnic and dissident groups have blasted ignorance of the plight of victims of the Kachin conflict as “immoral”.

Speaking at a seminar in Bangkok, Khin Ohmar of the Burma Partnership said the international community must not brush aside the Kachin state violence, which has so far claimed 75,000 victims.

“The state of denial must stop. Repeatedly the outside world has said this is not the right time [to intervene], but when will it be the right time?” said Khin Ohmar.

“It is immoral to forget the elephant in the room; the military in this conflict.”

Khin Ohmar was moderating a seminar on the “Ongoing Impunity: Continued Burma Army Atrocity against Kachin People” report prepared by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand.

The Mae Sot-based Myanmar dissident also called on the international community to consider armed ethnic groups like the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the general public when forming humanitarian aid policy.

Naw Din of the Chiang Mai-based Kachin Information Centre said nearly 100,000 internally displaced people are sheltered in Kachin areas. The KIO, said Naw Din, called it a “cleansing war” as it was happening only in this state.

Today is the first anniversary of the breakdown of the 17-year-old ceasefire agreement between the Myanmar government and ethnic Kachin. Over the past year, about 100 clashes have broken out between government and Kachin forces despite orders to stop fighting.

Naw La of the Kachin Development Network Group said the Kachin people, particularly the KIO, supported the 2008 military-drafted constitution and took a neutral stance in the 2010 election. But now, they are confronting the Myanmar government for allegedly not keeping a promise of reaching political solutions.

Hkawng Seng Pan of the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand called on the Myanmar government to end human rights violations, bring the military to justice and enter genuine peace talks.

“We also would like the international community to stop turning a blind eye to Kachin state and to condemn atrocities,” said Hkawng Seng Pan.

She wants an independent inquiry into the report, which documents atrocities such as killings and rapes.

“We were told the Myanmar Human Rights Commission would not consider ethnic issues. The Court has also rejected our petition. What would we do without international help,” the Chiang Mai-based activist said.

“The main reason for the Kachin defiance stems from the government’s use of force against the KIO to transform to gain control of natural resources,” she said.

Naw Din said the Union Nationalities Federal Council has released a statement saying they would give the Myanmar government a deadline to stop attacks on the Kachin.

View the original article here.

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