By BosNewsLife Asia Service
RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife)– The Burmese military continues to carry out “serious human rights abuses” including rape, torture and killings of predominantly Christian ethnic groups, Christian rights activists said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Friday, May 11.
Among those targeted are Kachin people in northern Burma’s Kachin State, where advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported 126 clashes between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) since December 10, when President Thein Sein ordered an end to an ongoing offensive.
Some 140 soldiers and 160 were injured in these attacks, according to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), said CSW, which has done investigations in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
There was no immediate confirmation from officials.
Civilians are also suffering, including children, Christians said. In one of the latest known incidents on May 5, two children from Ta Li village were shot dead by Burma Army soldiers “after being startled by a bomb blast while they played near Ta Li River,” CSW explained in a statement to BosNewsLife.
Burmese soldiers allegedly ordered villagers to claim to outsiders that the children were killed by a KIA bomb instead.
Earlier this month seven houses were reportedly torched in Zi Kahtawng village in Nam San Yang area, while dozens of homes were allegedly destroyed earlier by Burmese troops, adding to anxiety among tens of thousands of refugees.
There were also reports of rape, CSW said.
At least 45,000 people have been uprooted from their homes in the conflict and stay in several refugee camps, according to rights activists.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has pledged technical, logistical and even financial assistance the Burmese government to help secure a peace agreement in Kachin State.
“The situation in Kachin State is inconsistent with the successful conclusion of ceasefire agreements with all the other major groups,” he told reporters.
“The Kachin people should no longer be denied the opportunity that a ceasefire and a political agreement can bring for peace and development. Let me acknowledge the humanitarian access that we now have in Kachin State. That access must continue.”
As prerequisites for peace talks to resume, the KIO have requested an end to Burma Army military operations in Kachin State and the withdrawal of troops, an end to human rights violations and guaranteed safety of displaced people to return to their villages.
CSW said the clashes against ethnic groups demanding more political and religious rights overshadow reports that Burma’s government is opening up to the international community by even issuing a passport to opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi this week.
The head of the opposition National League for Democracy will be allowed to travel out of the country for the first time in 24 years and plans to visit Oslo, Norway, next month to claim the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1991.
SIGNS OF HOPE?
CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said that though “there were significant signs of change and hope in Burma, the situation in Kachin State is continuing to deteriorate markedly.”
He said that “Until the military stops committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, President Thein Sein’s promises of change cannot be fully believed.”
Rogers acknowledged that the president has introduced “some reforms which are very welcome” and that “there is a change in atmosphere in the rest of the country.”
However “now he needs to act to stop the military’s offensives and secure real peace in Kachin State,” the CSW official added.