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24 – 30 November: How Many More Lives? Burma Army Must Immediately Halt its Offensives in Kachin State

December 2, 2014

Photo By JPaing The IrrawaddyDespite repeated calls from the international community, governments and civil society for an immediate halt to hostilities in Kachin and northern Shan State, on 19 November, 2014 the Burma Army fired several artillery missiles as “warning shots” onto the Kachin Independent Army’s (KIA) training academy in Laiza, Kachin State, killing 23 cadets and seriously injuring 20 others. Laiza is not only the KIA’s strong-hold. It is a city with over 20,000 civilians and a host to over 17,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Just days after the killing in Laiza, the Burma Army began firing shells near IDP camps. Some of the shells landed near a boarding school housing about 1,000 IDP children. These subsequent attacks near the camps threatened the lives of over 10,000 IDPs and raised much anxiety among the most vulnerable communities who have continuously fled the conflict. Fortunately, no one was hurt in these attacks, but many of the IDPs were forced to flee again in terror to the nearby jungle.

The narrative of “reform” and the sweeping political changes that have been praised and funded by the international community is quickly coming apart at the seams. While the Burma Government continues to use its rhetoric of change and democracy to encourage international governments, donors and investors to continue funding the peace process and development projects, they made one of the most deadly targeted attacks in Kachin State since the ceasefire broke down in 2011. This attack raised serious doubts among the ethnic groups who have threatened to abandon talks aimed at achieving a nationwide ceasefire accord. These talks, ongoing for nearly two years, have proved to be thus far redundant, as the Burma Army obviously has no other goal than the elimination of all ethnic armed groups without committing to any genuine, structural reforms.

Civil society in Burma has condemned these attacks, as demonstrated by series of protests by civil society and peace activists both inside the country and abroad, with one significant symbolic ceremony gathering hundreds outside the Myanmar Peace Center in Rangoon honoring the victims of the attack. Local groups are urging the UN and the international community to condemn these attacks and have called for the “safety and protection of the IDPs as well as ensuring unhindered and continuing humanitarian assistance for the IDPs in the KIO control area.” Ironically only the US Embassy in Rangoon raised concerns towards the military actions, while the donors of Burma’s peace process, including Norway and EU, have been silent.

The Burma Army has continuously targeted, attacked and killed civilians with impunity in ethnic areas under President Thein Sein’s government. These attacks on civilians and IDPs constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and have been documented by Fortify Rights in their recent report. The report highlights systematic use of torture on civilians in Kachin State and northern Shan State throughout 2011 to 2014. According to the report, the Burma Army has “shelled and razed civilian homes, attacked makeshift camps of displaced persons, and entered villages while opening fire on civilians with small arms.” These acts, including extrajudicial killings committed by solders, are left unaccounted for under the unreformed, corrupt and unfair judicial system.

In January 2014, a report published by Women’s League of Burma (WLB), denounced the systematic use of rape by the Burma Army as an indictment of war and oppression against ethnic people. The report called for an end to state-sponsored sexual violence. Almost one year has passed and a follow up report shows that the situation remains largely unchanged. While the Burma Government has ostensibly signaled their willingness to address women’s rights issues in conflict areas, they have not actively engaged in amending the judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to investigate these heinous human rights abuses, failing to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Furthermore, International Human Rights Clinic at the Harvard Law School has published a legal memorandum that clearly shows Burma Army commanders involvement in crimes against humanity and war crimes under international criminal law. The Burma Government has ignored this well-founded research from an accredited international institution. This clearly shows the intransigence of the Government and their unwillingness to hold main perpetrators of these crimes accountable. The international donors funding the peace process should respond to this negligence by pressuring the Government to end these atrocities taking place in ethnic areas. Further funding without taking a strong stance and action against the Government will makes them complicit in these crimes.

We reiterate the position of Burma’s civil society that calls for the safety and security of the IDPs, and urge the international community to pressure the Government to immediately cease and publicly condemn attacks on civilians and to engage in a political dialogue with the ethnic armed groups that will achieve a sustainable peace.

News Highlights  

Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi continues to call for dialogue between herself, the government and other major political players despite the abrupt cancellation by the government of a scheduled meeting on constitutional reform set for Friday in Naypyidaw, a decision that was condemned by lawmakers for ignoring support for constitutional amendments

Inside Burma

Prominent pro-democracy activist and 88 Generation Peace and Open Society member Hla Myo Naung passes away at the age of 47 at Thingangyun Hospital in Rangoon

Win Cho, a former political prisoner and renowned rights activist, is approved as an eligible candidate for upcoming municipal elections in Rangoon after appealing an initial rejection by the city’s election commission

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, representatives from the Myanmar Peace Centre and ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team continue discussions about the peace process, however any talk of a ceasefire was overshadowed by the recent shelling of a Kachin training camp by the Burma Army, which left 23 cadets dead and 20 injured

Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization and its armed wing, Pa-Oh National Liberation Army pledge to protect children from the effects of armed conflict by signing a “Deed of Commitment” in Geneva

The family of an army officer, Maj. Kyaw Swar Win, have been prevented from visiting him eight months after he was detained for signing a petition to change the Constitution. He is facing a military tribunal.

Burma’s Supreme Court rejects an appeal by four journalists and the CEO of the Unity journal, who are serving a sentence of seven years in prison with hard labor

Burma Army discharges and releases 80 children and young people who had been recruited illegally when they were younger than 18 years


Asian Development Bank announces it will provide Burma Government with an US $80 million loan for the upgrade of a road that is a key transport link in and out of the Irrawaddy Delta, the country’s most important rice-growing area and home to millions of farmers

A 12-member Burmese team, including legal and forensic experts, arrive in Thailand’s Bangkok to assist and observe in the case involving two young migrants who are due to go on trial for the 15 September murder of two British tourists on the Thai island of Koh Tao and the Koh Samui Provincial Court rejects bail requests for two Burmese men accused of murdering two British backpackers on the island of Koh Tao on 15 September, 2014


The Australian Government announces a five-year plan to strengthen immigration and border control in Burma, helping improve areas of border management, governance, training and development, and systems and technology in the country

The European Union announces it will pledge a further 257 Euros a year to Burma to fund rural development, political reform, peace initiatives and other issues until the end of 2016

International Committee of the Red Cross announces a record US $30 million budget for work in Burma over the coming year, largely allocating the funds to projects in Arakan, Kachin and Shan States

The International Monetary Fund plans to bolster the technical assistance and capacity building support for public financial management that it offers to the countries of Lao and Burma

An agreement is signed between Macau and Burma for Macau to take 5,000 Burmese migrant workers per year, mainly for the service and construction industries.


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Statements and Press Releases

ႏုိင္ငံေတာ္သမၼတ ဦးသိန္းစိန္ထံသုိ႔ အိတ္ဖြင့္ေပးစာ
By 112 Civil Society Organizations

ဗုိလ္ခ်ဳပ္မွဴးႀကီး မင္းေအာင္လႈိင္၊ ကာကြယ္ေရးဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ထံသုိ႔ အိတ္ဖြင့္ေပးစာ
By 112 Civil Society Organizations

ျပည္ေထာင္စုလႊတ္ေတာ္မွ ကန္႔ကြက္သူမရွိ အတည္ျပဳလုိက္ေသာ (၆) ပြင့္ဆိုင္ ေတြ႔ဆံုေဆြးေႏြးပြဲႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္၍ ၈၈ မ်ိဳးဆက္( ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးႏွင့္ ပြင့္လင္းလူ႔အဖြဲ႔အစည္း) ၏ သေဘာထားေၾကညာခ်က္
By 88 Generation Peace and Open Society

Myanmar: Serious Risk of Further Human Rights Abuses at Controversial Letpadaung Mine
By Amnesty International

Statement on Consultation Organized by Border-based Civil Society Organisations with the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT)
By Border-based Civil Society Organisations

Britain Must Support International Investigation into Rape and Sexual Violence in Burma
By Burma Campaign UK

Parliament Committee: Re-impose Burma Sanctions If No Improvement In Human Rights
By Burma Campaign UK

BROUK Welcomes US Senate Resolution on Rohingya
By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

ခ်င္းအမ်ိဳးသားညီလာခံ ဘံုသေဘာတူညီခ်က္မ်ား အေကာင္အထည္ေဖၚေရး ေပါင္းစပ္ညွိႏိႈင္းမႈေကာ္မတီ ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္
By Chin National Conference

Urgent Release: The Humanitarian Crisis Update and Key Messages for Kachin State and Northern Shan State
By Joint Strategy Team

KNO’s Condemation Statement on Unprovoked Attacked at KIA’s Military Academy by the Burma Army
By Kachin National Organization

KWAT Condemns Repeated Burma Army Shelling along Kachin-China Border, Threatening Tens of Thousands of Civilians
By Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand

ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးႏွင့္ ႏိုင္ငံေရး ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲ မူေဘာင္ ေရးဆြဲေရးဆိုင္ရာ ႏိုင္ငံေရး ပါတီမ်ား စံုညီအစည္းအေဝး သေဘာထား ထုတ္ျပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္
By Nationalities Brotherhood Federation

ကခ်င္ ဗိုလ္သင္တန္းေက်ာင္း တိုက္ခိုက္ခံရမႈႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္၍ အမ်ဳိးသားဒီမိုကေရစီအဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္၏ ေၾကညာခ်က္
By National League for Democracy

အမ်ိဳးသား ဒီမုိကေရစီအဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္ ပါတီစည္းမ်ည္းႏွင့္ ဖြဲ႔စည္းပံု ျဖည့္စြက္ခ်က္ ထုတ္ျပန္
By National League for Democracy

Rohingya Organisations Condemn the ‘Cowardly’ Murder of 23 Young Cadets Members of the Kachin Independence Army and Call for Inter-Ethnic Solidarity
By Rohingya Organizations

KIA ဗိုလ္ေလာင္း သင္တန္းေက်ာင္း တိုက္ခိုက္ခံရမႈအေပၚ SYCB ၏ သေဘာထား ထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္
By Students and Youth Congress of Burma

U.S. Embassy, Rangoon: Reports of Renewed Military Action in Southern and Eastern Kachin State
By US Embassy Rangoon

‘If they had hope, they would speak’: The Ongoing Use of State Sponsored Sexual Violence in Burma’s Ethnic Communities
By Women’s League of Burma


‘If they had hope, they would speak’: The Ongoing Use of State-Sponsored Sexual Violence in Burma’s Ethnic Communities
By Women’s League of Burma

The FCO’s Human Rights Work 2013
By Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This post is in: Weekly Highlights