Myanmar: War victims in Kachin State face human rights abuses

YANGON – Displaced communities in Kachin State are facing growing human rights abuses as skirmishes continue between the government and Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

There are currently more than 100,000 internally displaced peoples (IDP’s) in Kachin State, and many do not have access to relief or aid and remain vulnerable to more abuses, according to local relief groups.

“Our group is now guarding over 13,000 IDPs living in six refugee camps in Northern Shan State and border areas in Kachin State,” said Marry Ton from Wan Paung Nein Htwe, a local humanitarian group based in Mai Jar Yan that provides relief to the war victims.

“The IDPs fleeing their original homes have already faced the human rights abuse. Many villagers have lost their property while passing through military controlled areas,” she added.

Wan Paung Nein Htwe and the Kachin Peace Network were speaking at a jointly-organised news conference, after fresh clashes continued to displace villagers in Mansi Township, Kachin State.

More than 13,000 people have fled their villages since October and Kachin civic organisations have already raised fears that they are undersupplied to deal with the growing numbers of refugees. 

“According to many IDPs, they ran empty handed while the skirmishes erupted as they were working their fields. This month is the harvest time. During the skirmish, both sides used villagers as guides and porter for their bags and loads. A porter was sentenced in accordance with section 17. There are a lot of people who are being sentenced with section 17,” said Khun Gyar from the Kachin Peace Network.

At present, there are over 100,000 war victims in Kachin State. Among them, more than 30,000 victims are living in areas under government control while the rest are in KIA’s controlled areas, according to the reports of Kachin Peace Network.