An international human rights organisation claims in a statement released 6th November that the Burma Army is committing human rights abuses with impunity in conflict areas.
The statement, released by South East Asia based Fortify Rights, stated that the Burma Army was deliberately attacking and killing civilians.
Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, said that the government claims of democratic reforms were undermined by reports of ongoing human rights abuses by the military.
“The government of Burma wants the world to believe its human rights record is beyond reproach, but that’s just not the reality,” he said, adding, “The romantic narrative of sweeping political change is inconsistent with the situation of ongoing war crimes and widespread impunity [of the military].”
Fortify Rights said it had documented the Burma Army attacking civilians in Kachin State. Fighting between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the military broke-out in 2011 following a government offensive.
Information provided to Karen News by the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand, lists at least 78,225 civilians displaced by the conflict in Kachin State now living in 67 camps in KIO controlled territory.
The Burma Army “shelled and razed civilian homes, attacked makeshift camps of displaced persons, and entered villages while opening fire on civilians with small arms,” Fortify Rights said. “In some cases, soldiers committed extrajudicial killings,” the Fortify Rights statement said, noting that most of the attacks occurred in civilian populated areas with “no presence” of the Kachin Independence Army.
One eyewitness produced by Fortify Rights said that the Burma Army was targeting civilians. “They shot at the villagers,” said an ethnic Kachin woman (who did not provide her real name for security concerns), “Some [civilians] were running to the church and some were coming from the fields to get to the church.” The woman referred to an incident involving Burma Army soldiers shooting at civilians, that allegedly took place on October 22 last year at Mung Ding Pa village, Kachin State.
Mr Smith said that villages were besieged by the violence. “Entire communities remain under attack. The government’s denial of wartime abuses and the international community’s soft-stepping has gone on for too long,” Mr. Smith said, “If the government genuinely wants peace in ethnic states, it must end and rectify attacks on civilians and other abuses. The survivors of these attacks have been denied their right to access justice and compensation for their losses—that needs to change.”