Kachin State: Peace talks marred by killings

As peace negotiations continue, Kachin people continue to suffer human rights abuses including rape and arbitrary killings at the hands of the Burma Army, according to community-based organisations.

The conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and Burma’s Army since June 2011 has left over 350 villages in trouble, some abandoned completely, and over 100,000 civilians displaced.

The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) said civilians are most at risk to human rights abuses.

KWAT pointed out that, in a recent example, Burma Army troops raided Nhka Ga village, near Putao, northern Kachin State in September, after fighting in the area. They detained the villagers, torturing ten men, and killing three of them – it is also claimed a young woman was raped by a Burma Army officer.

The atrocities took place only a month before peace talks held between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Burma’s government in Myitkyina on October 8th.

Soon after the peace talks, on October 22, about 1,000 Burmese troops attacked and occupied two villages in Mansi township, in southern Kachin State, displacing over 1,000 villagers. About 400 villagers were detained in a village church, leading to the death of a 76-year-old woman. The Burmese troops had moved in after KIA had withdrawn from the strategic Kaihtik-Bhamo road.

Jessica Nhkum, the KWAT joint secretary said the military is using the peace talks as a tactic to reinforce its offensive positions.

“Between each round of peace talks, the Burmese government is seizing new strategic sites and expanding its military into Kachin areas.”

Since the renewal of conflict between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burma’s Army on June 9, 2011, there have been three official peace talks and at least ten unofficial peace talks between the two sides. “How can we believe that this process will lead to peace?” Jessica Nhkum added.

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