The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team; Cell: 917-679-0110

Kachin Conflict in Burma Enters Fifth Year

Government-led abuses against ethnic minorities including the Kachin and Rohingya continue with impunity


This week's four-year anniversary of the breakdown of a ceasefire between the Kachin Independent Army and the Burmese Army, which had previously held for nearly two decades, renews attention on violence against ethnic minorities in Burma. The end to the ceasefire was the beginning of yet another onslaught of government-initiated human rights violations against Kachin, Shan, and Ta-ang civilians in northern Burma, violations that persist to this day. While attention has recently been focused on the plight of the Muslim Rohingya, who are fleeing the country to escape persecution, other groups have also been victims of war crimes and other human rights abuses over the past four years.

Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, said the following:


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"The violent nationalist anti-Rohingya fervor is only the latest example of the discriminatory ways in which the Burmese government has taken action to persecute ethnic minorities. We have uncovered human rights violations against the Kachin, including the Burmese army stealing food from civilians, firing indiscriminately into villages, threatening villages with attacks, and enslaving civilians as porters and human minesweepers.

"Those abuses began four years ago and continue today. No member of an ethnic minority in Burma is entirely safe. The 'population control' bill passed in April, and the other proposed national race and religion bills, run the real risk of discriminating against ethnic minorities by restricting their right to marry, establish a family, and register births, among other human rights violations.

"It is critical that the Burmese government protect all of its people. The hundreds of thousands of Kachin, Rohingya, and other ethnic nationality groups who have been displaced from their homes must receive humanitarian medical aid as well as government assurances to uphold their human rights, which they desperately need."

In November 2011, Physicians for Human Rights published a report, "Under Siege in Kachin State, Burma," on its findings following an investigation in response to reports of grave human rights violations in the region.

PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all.