It has been now been three years since the Burma Army broke a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and unleashed a major new military offensive against the Kachin people.
Since then over 120,000 Kachin people have been forced to flee their homes with over 200 villages being destroyed and many people seeking refuge in internally displaced person (IDP) camps along the Burma-China border.
In his last report to the UN Human Rights Council, Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, detailed concerns about violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, noting that there has been “no progress in tackling the impunity under which the military forces currently operate”. Under this impunity the Burma Army have carried out continual human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
This week also saw the release of the Fortify Rights report “I Thought They Would Kill Me”: Ending Wartime Torture in Northern Myanmar, which chronicles the torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of more than 60 civilians by members of the Burma Army, Military Intelligence and Police Force. These abuses were part of a systematic attack against the civilian population with the backing of the state.
The children we work with in Kachin State witness this situation on a daily basis. The Early Childhood Development programme we provide in the IDP camps around Laiza and in outlying camps on the Burma-China border is specifically designed for children who have experienced this kind of trauma, helping them to make sense of what they’ve experienced, and move forward.
As this Monday marked the third anniversary of the resumption of war against the Kachin people, 55 concerned groups and organisations around the world, including Children on the Edge signed a statement calling for peace. The document contained various recommendations urging the Government of Burma to end the violence, allow access for humanitarian aid, to respect international human rights law and to both protect and compensate displaced people.
The statement also called on the international community to establish a full investigation into the use of rape and sexual violence and urged the People’s Republic of China to respect the right of refugees. Full details of the statement can be found at Burma Campaign UK.
Find out more about our work with displaced Kachin children in Burma, and consider donating to the project.