Burma: Kachin face further oppression from Army

Humanitarian aid group the Free Burma Rangers reports that on 19 January in Kawng Hka Village in Northern Shan State, two Kachin girls – Maran Lu Ra (20) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21) – were savagely raped and then clubbed to death by Burmese soldiers. The girls, missionaries sent out by the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), had been asleep in the KBC church compound when they were attacked. Church members reported the crime but no action was taken.

On 21 March Burmese soldiers shot and killed civilians Dau Ma La (52) and his 103-year-old mother, Da Shi Hka, in Mansi Township and looted their property.

On 9 May Burmese soldiers shot Min Htet (40), a civilian farmer and father of two from the Mung Hkawng IDP Camp. Min, who had been outside the camp tending to his pigs, survived the shooting only to be knifed repeatedly by soldiers in the eyes and face before beating him to death. Though Hpaure Htu (30) was also shot she managed to escape. On 6 May the Kachin Army clashed with Burmese troops near Mansi Township. A ‘little bit of fighting’ continued into the next day. Then on 8 May, while President Thein Sein was meeting with ethnic leaders to negotiate a national ceasefire, two fighter jets were bombing the Kachin into submission.

One commentator offers this  analysis: “The Kachin are a Christian people living in Burma’s mountainous far north where the Irrawaddy River has its source. Not only does the regime covet Kachin State’s jade, gold and timber, it also wants to dam the Irrawaddy. If it is ever completed, the Myitsone Dam Project will be managed by the state-owned Chinese Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and will be generating hydroelectric power for China. Whilst the dam will cause the Kachin to lose vast swathes of land and more than 60 villages, the Burmese regime stands to make a great deal of money from it. Therefore what the regime really wants is Kachin State without the Kachin. In its war against the Christian Kachin, the Burmese army (officially known as the Tatmadaw) routinely targets harmless, defenceless Kachin civilians. Gross insecurity has driven more than 100,000 traumatised Kachin from their homes into IDP (internally displaced persons) camps sustained mostly by the Church. Peace is illusive. ‘When the Burmese army talks about a cease-fire, they mean stopping shooting for a short while,’ says Manam Tu Shan, a 67-year-old Kachin church deacon in Laiza. ‘But what we mean by a cease-fire is living peacefully and being able to practise our traditions without the Burmese interfering.'”