Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kachin groups urge Suu Kyi to ‘speak out’

Thursday, 27 September 2012 13:06 Mizzima News

Reflecting disappointment in Aung San Suu Kyi’s statements on fighting in Kachin State, a group of 23 Kachin organizations have issued a public letter calling for her “to speak out about the abuses being committed against our people.”

“If you were to speak out, the international community would listen, all the people of Burma regardless of ethnicity or religion will stand up for the wholesale principles of democracy and human rights,” said a letter released on Thursday.

Refugees in Kachin State in northeast Burma at a KIO camp, where displaced persons are in need of more aid including food, medicine and shelter material. Photo: Mizzima

“As a renowned champion for human rights, by not condemning the abuses in Kachin State you are not only condoning the state-sanctioned violence, but you exemplify to the masses in the country that the notion of conditional human rights is tolerated,” the letter said.

The letter cited Suu Kyi’s comments at the London School of Economics in Britain in June 2012, “when you stated that there was a need to establish the facts of the root cause of the Kachin conflict.”

“Further, in your meeting with the Burmese Community in the USA on 22nd September, you stated: ‘Basically, what is it that I have to strongly condemn? If it is a human rights violation as well as any acts of breaching the rule of law then I will strongly condemn.’”

The letter said, “You are yet to take a stance on the human rights abuses taking place in Kachin State; your statement, combined with the comments you made at the LSE gives the impression to the people of Burma and international community that you do not believe human rights abuses are taking place.

The letter continued: “Many international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, and international media including the BBC have reported and verified that heinous abuses are committed against the Kachin population by the Burmese army."

In March 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur stated he had reports of: “…attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, internal displacement, the use of human shields and forced labour, and the confiscation and destruction of property. He has also received reports of gang rapes by army soldiers, although the numbers provided by different sources vary," said the statement. “In the report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence, it was noted that as many as 32 women and girls throughout Kachin State were allegedly raped by the military between June and August 2011.”

The letter invited Suu Ky to visit the Mai Ja Yang refugee area, where the majority of the displaced people are protected by the Kachin Independence Organization.

“You will be able to hear directly from the victims about the human rights abuses that have been committed against them. You will see for yourself the suffering caused by the Burmese government’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid into these areas. As you often refer to your father General Aung San in your political speeches, we do hope that you uphold his promise for the Union of Burma where all ethnic people including Burman will be equal,” said the letter.

It continued: “As an elected MP and daughter of General Aung San, talk of ‘unity’ while staying silent on the suffering of the ethnic masses will only polarize the country further.

"All of those who believe in the cause of human rights and democracy in our country must work together. We must all make efforts to restore trust, and therefore in the spirit of Panglong we extend this invitation to you. You are now able to travel all over the world and speak openly to large audiences… We have trust in you that you will recognize the urgency and importance of this request and not refuse the invitation.

“The government of Burma broke the 17 year-long cease-fire in June 2011 to annex Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) controlled areas. From this time, the Burmese army has not only launched full-scale war against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) but also committed genocide and other heinous human rights violations deliberately attacking innocent civilians. The direct military actions by the Burmese army in a clear violation of Geneva Conventions have resulted in the forced displacement of 100,000 Kachin civilians to date.

“Human rights abuses committed by the Burmese army against our people include rape and gang-rape against women and even children, the elderly and disabled; killing many victims of sexual violence; arbitrary executions; torture; mutilations; beatings; forced labour; mortar bombing and burning of villages; looting of villages and other thefts; and use of child soldiers many of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Given the climate of violence, fear and suffering our people are enduring everyday, it is disheartening not to hear you speaking out against injustice for those who have been forcibly silent, instead you declared you have a soft spot for Tatmadaw that your father founded, the very institution that is responsible for such miseries.

“As you and your fellow parliamentary members are well aware, the government of Burma is not providing emergency relief and is refusing to allow the free delivery of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of internally displaced people in direct and open violation of international law.

“In your position as chair of the Lower House of Parliament’s Rule of Law Committee you have the power to initiate and the responsibility to minimize the immense suffering of Kachin IDPs that includes women and young children who are suffering from malnutrition and other illnesses without sufficient medical or education facilities,” said the letter.

Signed by

1. All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU)
2. Kachin Canadian Association
3. Kachin Women's Association Thailand (KWAT)
4. Kachin National Organization (KNO)
5. Kachin Association of Australia (KAA)
6. Kachin Centre-Thailand
7. Kachin Refugee Committee- Malaysia (KRC)
8. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Japan)
9. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Denmark)
10. Kachin Christian Fellowship (KCF-Denmark)
11. Kachin National Organization (KNO-USA)
12. Kachin National Organization (KNO-United Kingdom)
13. Kachin National Organization (KNO-India)
14. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Malaysia)
15. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Australia)
16. Kachin Community in United Kingdom
17. Kachin Community in Sweden (KCS)
18. Kachin Community in Netherlands (KCNL)
19. Kachin Association Norway
20. Kachin Alliance (USA)
21. Pan Kachin Development Society (PKDS)
22. Queensland Kachin Community
23. Singapore Kachin Community

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