For Immediate Release
PHR today released a report detailing human rights abuses committed by the Burmese Army in Kachin State,Burma. PHR’s investigation reveals that the much-publicized incrementalpolitical changes in central Burma have not translated into improvements forthe ethnic populations in the remote areas of Burma. During Secretary of StateHillary Clinton’s visit to Burma in December, PHR calls on her to focus onabuses against ethnic minorities.
In September, PHR conductedan investigation in Burma’s Kachin State in response to reports of grave humanrights violations in the region. PHR found that between June and September2011, the Burmese army looted food from civilians, fired indiscriminately intovillages, threatened villages with attacks, and used civilians as porters andhuman minesweepers.
“These findings come at a crucial moment as theinternational community is considering increased engagement with Burma inresponse to its perceived progress toward democracy,” said Richard Sollom,PHR’s deputy director. “As the Kachin and other groups continue to endure heinoushuman rights violations at the hands of the Burmese army, the government’srhetoric must begin to translate into human rights for all of the people ofBurma.”
Key human rights findings ofthe report include:
- The Burmese army forced Kachin civilians toguide combat units and walk in front of army columns to trigger landmines.
- The Burmese army regularly pillaged food andsupplies from civilians.
- The Burmese army fired automatic weaponsdirectly into a civilian village, striking non-military targets.
“This report sheds an important light on the brutal violations suffered every day bythe people of Kachin State. While the rest of the world applauds Burma for‘flickers of progress’ the ethnic minorities of Burma continue to endure humanrights violations as they wait for true change,” said Shirley Seng,spokesperson for Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand.
The report also provides the first humanitarian assessment of some ofthe internally displaced people living in areas of Kachin State that are notcontrolled by the Burmese government.
PHR visited six camps and four sheltersfor displaced Kachin civilians on the Sino-Burmese border and conducted healthand nutrition assessments. PHR’s investigation found that the camps fail to meetmultiple minimum humanitarian standards outlined in the Sphere humanitarianguidelines, are overcrowded, and have an insufficient number of latrines andwater supply points.
Sphere guidelines were established a decade ago by a groupof aid organizations to ensure that displaced people have a right to life withdignity and that all efforts should be made to alleviate human suffering in thewake of disasters and conflict.
PHR welcomes an increase in humanitarian aid to Burma,including support to organizations operating within Burma. PHR also continuesto call for a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the ongoing human rightsabuses in Burma.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.