About 40 protesters held a demonstration at the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok Tuesday to denounce the ongoing armed conflict and humanitarian crisis in Kachin State. The protesters, members of the Kachin community in Bangkok and representatives from the Overseas National Students of Burma, read out a statement and the text of a letter addressed to President Thein Sein calling for an end to the crisis.
An official from the Embassy met the protesters and accepted the letter. It was endorsed by 71 Kachin organizations and communities around the world, as well as regional and international non-governmental organizations. The letter – ‘Urgent Appeal to End the Humanitarian Crisis in Kachin State’ dated June 5, 2012 – was addressed to Thein Sein, President of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) and copied to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma.
The letter endorsed by 71 Kachin organizations urges the President to end the humanitarian crisis immediately that Kachin people have now been facing for a year by:
– Taking immediate appropriate actions to end the Tatmadaw’s attacks on Kachin people and to protect civilians.
– Immediately allowing access to humanitarian aid from both national and international organizations to internally displaced persons.
– Initiating a meaningful political dialogue with the Kachin Independence Organization and the people of Kachin State in order to achieve sustainable peace and address the issue of equality and democracy for ethnic people.
– Allowing independent international witnesses and local civil society and community-based organizations to observe peace talks and participate in monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with the ceasefire agreement.
– Stopping the misrepresentation of Kachin people and their desires in state media.
– Helping the people of Kachin State recover from the physical and mental wounds of war and begin the rebuilding process.
Burmese government armed forces have been fighting relentlessly against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) since June 9 last year.
The Burmese Army continues non-stop offensives to seize positions held by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin and the northern Shan state. Although Burma’s President Thein Sein has issued an instruction twice to Burma‘s Commander-in-Chief to halt the offensive against the KIO, the war continues. KIA officials and observers claim the current heavy artillery bombardments in the war against Kachin rebels are only used with the authorization of the Burma Army’s central military command.
It’s clear that President Thein Sein’s commands to stop the offensive are certainly worthless orders issued to satisfy the international community.
Many Kachin citizens say the reason behind the renewal of hostilities last year after a 17-year ceasefire is the craving for natural resources in Kachin State by the Burmese military-backed government. That’s why it strives to widen its control of the areas with Chinese power projects.
Last month, Lanyaw Zawng Hra, Chairman of KIO Central Committee, called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send UN observer teams or intermediary teams to the conflict war zones, and to the towns and villages destroyed by the Burmese Army, and to the IDP camps in KIO areas. KIO Chairman mentioned in a letter sent to UN Secretary General on May 15 that the Burmese Army is not only waging war against the KIO/KIA but also against the Kachin population as a whole and the government’s Army is now engaged in ethnic cleansing and conflict has now turned from one of political to racial in nature.
“This is a crucial time for us Kachin and our supporters to call on the Burma Army to halt attacks on civilians and urge the government to finally solve the conflict and stop the humanitarian crisis. The people of Kachin State cannot suffer like this for another year,” Naw San, General Secretary of the All Kachin Students and Youths Union, said.
This Saturday, June 9, will make it exactly one year since fighting broke out between the Burma Army and the KIO. Today’s protest is one of many global actions being organized in at least 11 countries around the world. There will be a press conference on these actions and the situation in Kachin State by Kachin organizations at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok, on June 8.