June 8, 2015

56 Solidarity Groups Worldwide Call for an Immediate End to Offensives in Northern Burma/Myanmar and for the Provision of Unhindered Humanitarian Assistance to the IDPs

On the fourth anniversary of the renewed war in Kachin State, 56 groups worldwide issued a statement in solidarity with the Kachin people by calling on the Burma Army to immediately halt all offensives in Kachin and northern Shan States and for the Burma/Myanmar Government to allow humanitarian agencies immediate and unhindered access to all internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the ongoing conflict. Since the Burma Army breached the 17-year-old ceasefire agreement with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), over 120,000 people have been displaced, mostly along the border with China.

“The IDPs have been suffering from a shortage of humanitarian aid, as well as restrictions to aid delivery, which is being blocked by the Government,” said Khon Ja, a member of the Kachin Women Peace Network. “Not only is there a need for a substantial increase in humanitarian aid, the Government must end its policies of inflicting further suffering on the IDPs who are the most vulnerable; there needs to be a stronger commitment to preserve their dignity.”

Despite the humanitarian emergency and the need for more food, shelter, and medical supplies, the restriction on movement of humanitarian agencies in northern Burma has made it difficult to provide sufficient aid to the IDPs. Further exasperating this situation is the expected cuts in aid beginning this month. While the IDPs have been receiving a paltry sum of 12,500 kyat (11.00 USD) per month, starting June 2015 they will receive half that amount as community based organizations (CBOs) struggle with funding and other necessities to meet the needs of the increasing number of IDPs.

In addition, the IDPs’ living conditions will potentially decline as the rainy season begins, with expected increases in dengue fever and other life threatening diseases putting their lives at further risk. Without sufficient medical supplies and a lack of adequate sanitation and nourishment, tens of thousands of people, including children, women and the elderly, are facing dire conditions without access to necessary humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Burma Army offensives are continuing unabated, including airstrikes from fighter jets just days after the text of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was signed in March 2015. “While there is much attention on the signing of the NCA draft text and the Government is being lauded for that, it is impossible for the 120,000 IDPs to share this same optimism as they continue to suffer from military offensives and abusive policies of the Burma Army,” said Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership. “In addition to calling on the Burma Army to halt all offensives in ethnic areas, the international community needs to immediately urge the Burma Government to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to all IDP camps, and these agencies need to work with local CBOs to ensure that there is sufficient humanitarian assistance that is effective in meeting the needs of the IDPs.”

For more information please contact:

Khon Ja: khonja2014@gmail.com

Khin Ohmar: khinohmar@burmapartnership.org

The Statement is below or you can read the it in English and Burmese here on Burma Partnership’s website: www.burmapartnership.org

 

Statement

56 Solidarity Groups Worldwide Call for an Immediate End to Offensives in Northern Burma/Myanmar and for the Provision of Unhindered Humanitarian Assistance to the IDPs

Four years ago on 9 June 2011, the Burma Army attacked the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) outpost, breaking a 17-year-old ceasefire agreement. Since then the Burma/Myanmar Government has launched an aggressive military offensive against the KIA and clashes have escalated into an outright recurrent war in Kachin and northern Shan State. As we mark the fourth anniversary of the renewed war in Kachin State, the Burma Army continues to increase its militarization by manipulating its forces into ethnic administrated territories, while the Government has restricted local and international humanitarian access to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), obstructing the delivery of adequate aid and assistance.

Since the Burma Army began its attacks in 2011, over 120,000 people in Kachin State have been displaced and more than 100,000 people have settled into IDPs camps along the China-Burma/Myanmar border. These IDPs, including women, malnourished children and the elderly, have not been able to access full and unhindered aid from the UN and other international agencies since October 2014 and remain in the camps without sufficient food, proper sanitation and other daily needs. As rainy season begins, expected increase in dengue fever and other life threatening diseases will put tens of thousands of IDPs at risk, especially without adequate medical supplies. Access to IDPs in KIA controlled areas rests largely on travel authorization granted by the Burma/Myanmar Government, which continues to restrict the movement of international humanitarian organizations.

Until now, the IDPs have been receiving a paltry sum of 12,500 Kyat per month, per person (USD 11.00), and despite the ongoing humanitarian emergency and the need for more food, shelter, medical supplies and school supplies, there will be further reduction in aid from the international community as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) struggle to meet the emergency needs. Starting June 2015, the IDPs are expected to receive as little as 200 Kyat per day (USD 0.18) in aid, which is impossible to survive on. The funding cuts will result in further suffering and the loss of dignity for those who have lived in these harsh conditions for the past four years.

The peace talks and the signing of the draft text of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) have not brought safety and security to the IDPs and those affected by the conflict as the Burma Army continues to repeatedly wage war against ethnic armies in Kachin State and northern Shan State. Since the peace talks began in 2012, fighting has intensified between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army, who have been excluded from recent peace talks. This has hindered the peace process and increased the lack of trust in the Government, while discussions of the NCA proceed without meaningful results.

While the Government continues to use its rhetoric of peace and reform to invite donors and investors to continue to fund the peace talks and development projects, some of the heaviest fighting in ethnic areas took place this year as the Burma Army attacked the KIA and civilian population in Laiza with airstrikes for the first time in March 2015. In addition, in November 2014, 23 cadets were slain by the Burma Army when they fired artillery missiles at the KIA’s training academy.

Since breaching the ceasefire agreement in 2011, the Burma Army has committed a litany of human rights abuses that would likely constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity under international human rights and humanitarian law. Cases such as the rape, torture and murder of two young Kachin volunteer teachers in northern Shan State demonstrates the system of impunity that protects the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, further instilling fear and oppressing ethnic communities. Crimes committed with impunity such as forced labor, arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killing, restricting the provision of humanitarian assistance, rape and other forms of sexual violence merit an immediate international investigation. If the Government hopes to gain trust they must show the political will for a truly democratic reform, and immediately conduct an impartial investigation into these crimes, alongside international investigators. The perpetrators must be held accountable.

On the 4th anniversary of the renewed fighting and war against the Kachin people, we the undersigned organizations strongly urge

The Burma/Myanmar Government to:

  • Immediately halt all Burma Army offensives in Kachin and northern Shan State and genuinely participate in the peace process by honoring original ceasefire agreements, withdrawing troops from ethnic areas and sincerely commit to building a federal union;
  • Allow humanitarian agencies immediate and unhindered access to all IDP camps with the cooperation and meaningful participation of local CBOs in both KIO and the Government controlled areas and;
  • Fully respect international human rights and humanitarian laws and comply with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Burma/Myanmar is a signatory, and commit to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security;

The international community and the donor community to:

  • Urge the Burma/Myanmar Government to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to all IDP camps;
  • Continue providing urgent humanitarian assistance to IDPs in cooperation with and in meaningful participation with local CBOs for a step towards long-term provision of humanitarian assistance to conflict affected communities and their eventual safe and dignified return to their home or place of resettlement;
  • Call for the immediate cessation of all hostilities in Kachin and northern Shan State and all other ethnic areas and end the war, so that the ethnic minority peoples may begin to live their lives in genuine peace with dignity.

Endorsed by:

  1. Actions Birmanie (Belgium)
  2. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  3. Altsean-Burma
  4. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
  5. Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
  6. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
  7. Ayarwady West Development Organization
  8. Back Pack Health Worker Team
  9. Burma Action Ireland
  10. Burma Campaign UK
  11. Burma Issues
  12. Burma Link
  13. Burma Partnership
  14. Burmese Women’s Union
  15. Cenford
  16. Center for Youth and Social Harmony
  17. Chin Human Rights Organization
  18. Christian Solidarity Worldwide
  19. Colors Rainbow
  20. Community Response Group (Comreg)
  21. Dawei Development Association
  22. Equality Myanmar
  23. Forum for Democracy in Burma
  24. Fortify Rights
  25. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
  26. Free Burma-Philippines Coalition
  27. Green Peasant Institute
  28. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust
  29. Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
  30. Info Birmanie (France)
  31. Institute for Asian Democracy
  32. International Federation for Human Rights
  33. International State Crime Initiative, Queen Mary University of London
  34. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  35. Kachin Peace Network
  36. Kachin Women Peace Network
  37. Karen Women Empowerment Group
  38. Karen Human Rights Group
  39. Network for Democracy and Development
  40. NGO Gender Group
  41. Norwegian Burma Committee
  42. Pa-Oh Youth Organization
  43. Palaung Women’s Organization
  44. Paungku
  45. Pyoe Khinn Thit
  46. Research and Translation Consultancy Cluster
  47. Students and Youth Congress of Burma
  48. Swedish Burma Committee
  49. Tavoyan Women’s Union
  50. Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation
  51. The Seagull: Human Rights, Peace and Development
  52. United ACT
  53. Union of Karenni State Youth
  54. US Campaign for Burma
  55. Women Initiatives Network for Peace
  56. Women’s League of Burma

 


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