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Statement by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand on the Third Anniversary of the Renewed Conflict in Kachin State

By Kachin Women's Association – Thailand  •  June 9, 2014

Systematic Burmese Military Offensives Throw Doubt on the Peace Process

KWAT is very concerned at the recent escalation of attacks by the Burma Army in southern Kachin and northern Shan State, which have caused fresh displacement and suffering. These systematic operations to seize control of key trade routes and economic zones along the China-Burma border throw strong doubt on the government’s sincerity towards the peace process.

The attacks in Mansi Township in early April were aimed to seize control of the Bang Kham border crossing, one of the main trading routes between southern Kachin State and China. 1,500 Burmese troops were sent into the area before the attacks, on the pretence of giving security for the census, but instead launching an unprovoked attack against the Kachin Independence Army on April 10th. Heavy shelling of Lagat Yang IDP camp and nearby villages caused over 3,000 people to flee. The Burmese Army has now seized the Bang Kham border post and established control over this area.

Similarly, the current military offensive in the Mong Baw area of northern Shan State is an attempt to clear out Kachin and other ethnic resistance forces from east of the Lashio-Muse highway, the main trading route between Burma and China, where a major economic zone is planned. In late April, over 1,000 Burma Army troops were deployed to Mong Baw, and on May 3, mortar shells were fired into nearby villages, causing about 1,000 villagers to flee their homes. Jets flew over the area, causing terror among the villagers.

During these operations, Burmese troops have continued to commit abuses, including sexual violence, against local civilians. On April 10, a 17-year-old schoolgirl was gang-raped by two soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 320 in Mansi township. On May 14, a soldier from LIB 145 attempted to rape a 40-year-old widow near Mong Ko, and on May 17, a 15-year-old girl was raped by a Burmese soldier near Kutkai. A total of at least 70 women and young girls have suffered sexual violence by the Burma Army over the past 3 years; about half of them were killed.

We deplore these continuing incidents of rape, and urge that the issue of military sexual violence be addressed as a matter of priority during peace negotiations. Also, to restore confidence in the peace process, the Burma Army must immediately stop its attacks and withdraw from Kachin areas, and the Burmese government must begin political dialogue with the ethnic armed resistance groups.

Media Contact:
Seng Zin + 66 (0) 846 142 330
Jessica Nhkum + 66 (0) 899 547 074

Email: kwat.secretariat@gmail.com
Website: www.kachinwomen.com

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This post is in: Press Release

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