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Kachin Crisis
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On September 23, 2012, the Kachin National Organization wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to raise awareness of ongoing conflicts and atrocious human rights abuses committed in Kachinland. Please see the letter below:
 

Dear UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We are writing this letter to highlight the continued state sanctioned violence and civil war in our home, Kachinland. Despite the international euphoria surrounding purported reform in Burma, grave human rights violations are increasing to an alarming level while the international community selectively focuses their attention on investment. We, the KNO, therefore urge you and your office to address the following issues in your upcoming high-level UN meeting on the Rule of Law on Sept 24, 2012.

•        While ceasefire agreements have been reached with some ethnic groups followed by reneging on these agreements by the Burmese government, military offensives against the Kachins have escalated. The UN Special Rapporteur, in his latest report, listed a series of human rights abuses committed in Burma in recent months that could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include “…. grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including attacks against the civilian population, extrajudicial killings, internal displacement, the use of human shields and forced labour, confiscation and destruction of property, and conflict-related sexual violence….”

•        Launching full-scale war, increasing troop numbers, intensifying military operations and conducting genocide against innocent civilians while engaging in hollow talks with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is contradictory to peace. Therefore, we urge you to demand the cessation of all military offensives in Kachinland to the Myanmar National Defense and Security Council and Burmese government.   

•        No civilians including registered IDPs and refugees should be subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture in Burma. Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Associations Act which unequivocally states that “Whoever is member of an unlawful association, or takes part in meetings of any such association, or contributes or receives or solicits any contribution for the purpose of any such association, or in any way assists the operations of any such association, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term [which shall not be less two years and more than three years and shall also be liable to fine]” must be repealed.  

•        The Kachin plight is particularly significant in the context of purported Burmese reform and the future democratic transition because the main Kachin political party the KIO took a bold calculation by signing a ceasefire with the government in 1994. Subsequently, the KIO went along with all political and transitional processes until blocked at the 2010 general election. The warning is ominous. If a party that seeks to cooperate in seeking peace and reform is blocked politically and attacked militarily what can anyone else hope for?

•        The international community must not turn a blind eye the lesson from the 1994 Kachin ceasefire agreement, which is without independent monitoring; the military is able to break the terms of the agreement with impunity as the military has power above that of the parliament. In short, a superficial ceasefire without independent international monitoring is ineffective and worthless.  

•        The lifting of sanctions without solving the armed conflicts means that the country could return to the same situation as the 1960s when the international community regarded the country as open and the central region, populated by ethnic Burmans, enjoyed international aid and investment. Meanwhile the people in the borderlands faced daily violence and the brutal “four cuts” (the cutting off of food, finance, recruits and information) strategy. Such a policy can only lead to increased polarization and conflict.

•        Democratic reform and economic development are inter-connected. Policy-making and delivery must be addressed simultaneously, and cannot be resolved in isolation. 

•        The fundamental point remains that people of Burma cannot expect lasting peace and genuine democracy in Burma unless decades-long armed conflicts are addressed at the constitutional level as violation of the founding national principles are the root cause of ethnic sufferings and inception of all armed conflicts. 

•        In the context of Burma, addressing the rule of law without questioning the legitimacy of the legislation that the laws themselves are based upon. Unless the Burmese government initiates the wholesale commitment to inclusive legislation with the founding ethnic members of the Union such as the Kachin, Shan and Chin, any transition towards democratic reform will be fundamentally flawed.  

The direct action to solve the above issues from the UN and international institutions is important and therefore equality in supporting collaboration between both government and the ethnic groups such as the KIO that represent the political aspiration and rights of the suffering ethnic populations must be taken. Your commitment to achieve equal rights and freedom for all people of Burma is crucial as failure to do so will only perpetuate long-standing conflicts, suffering, political and humanitarian crises faced by the people.

Yours truly,

Central Committee

Kachin National Organization