Source: The Asian Correspondent
Serious violations of human rights continue to be committed by the Burmese Army in eastern Burma, while humanitarian conditions deteriorate due to a lack of international funding, according to a report released Nov. 9th by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
Attack on the Assemblies of God Church
Soldiers from the Burma Army’s 88th Light Infantry Division attacked the Assemblies of God church in Muk Chyik village, Wai Maw Township on 6 November, injuring several people.
The congregation was expelled from the church, and soldiers reportedly looted church donation boxes. The house of one church member, Mr Jumphpawk Hawng Lum, was burned down. At least 50 church members are taken to work as forced porters for the Burma Army.
During the army operation in Muk Chyik village, Burmese soldiers also looted money from the tithe and micro credit boxes of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Metta Development Foundation, two NGOs, villagers said.
The pastor and three other villagers were taken to the nearby military base located near Washawng Dam. However, Maung Maung, the owner of a rice-mill, was taken to Infantry Battalion No. 58 based in Waingmaw Town, eyewitnesses said.
Burmese soldiers also arrested four villagers suspected of aiding the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), local eyewitness told Kachin News Group.
an eyewitness recounted:
“The detainees, Lahawng Hkawng Hawng and Shayu Lum Hawng, were severely tortured by Burmese soldiers after their hands, legs, and necks were tied with ropes.”
Thein Sein’s New Offensive
President Thein Sein’s government is currently increasing troops for the offensive against the KIA in Kachin State and northern Shan State, even as it talks about introducing democratic reforms in the country.
CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said:
“President Thein Sein and the regime in Burma have made some welcome gestures in recent months, potentially creating the conditions for some changes to be made. However, as long as the gross violations of human rights in the ethnic states continue, and political prisoners remain in horrific conditions in jail, we cannot speak of real change in Burma. It is clear from our visit to the Thailand-Burma border that there is a real need to maintain international pressure on the regime to match its rhetoric with action, and undertake substantial, significant and long-lasting change.”
During a military offensive against the KIA, Burmese armed forces shattered electricity power supply cables using artillery fire in Ga Ra Yang village on Nov. 1, referring KIO officials the Kachin News Group reported.
Since then, residents of Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin state, have been living without electricity. The Burmese Army knowingly destroyed the power supply lines to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) controlled area, said KIO officials.
The war in Kachin State is a puzzle for Burma observers.
Although the government has been talking about reform, its armed forces are freely committing crimes against racial inhabitants in the ethnic states.
The government’s military wing is behind war crimes and crimes against humanity. The human rights violations of Burmese soldiers in Kachin State, involving rape, forced labour, torture, the killings of civilians, and religious persecution are grave breaches of international law.
Attacking a church congregation is a brutal violation of religious freedom. The government, which is talking on the subject of reform, must take immediate action to rein in its soldiers.
If President Thein Sein government wants to be seen as a true civilian administration, it has to end the culture of impunity which has been deeply rooted in Burmese society for more than five decades.
It is also an obligation of the current government to provide humanitarian assistance to those war refugees and internally displaced populations in various ethnic states.