Monday, November 28, 2011




28 November 2011, Bangkok, Thailand - Burma’s army is committing serious human rights violations against ethnic communities in Kachin State that may amount to war crimes, according to a new report released today by the Norway-based non-governmental organization Partners Relief & Development (Partners).

The 59-page report documents first-hand testimony and frontline photographs of the increasingly brutal civil war in Burma’s Kachin State, which broke out on June 9 between the Burma army and the Kachin Independence Army, ending a 17-year-long ceasefire agreement. Partners has traveled to the conflict zone several times since June and documented torture, extrajudicial killing, open fire on civilians, human shielding, unlawful arrest and detention, forced labor, forced relocation, displacement, property theft and property destruction by the Burma army. An estimated 30,000 civilians have fled the conflict and abuses by the Burma army since the war began in June.

The report comes as the new semi-civilian government of Burma touts political and legal reforms; and as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to visit the country, the first visit by a US Secretary of State since 1955. According to Partners co-founder and international advocacy director Oddny Gumaer, “While the political situation in lowland Burma is being interpreted as a major breakthrough, the situation for millions in the ethic areas is worse than it’s been in two decades.” The principle author of the report, Bryan Erikson, adds, “Our findings reveal civilians to be living in extreme physical duress as a direct result of an attack perpetrated by the Burma Army in October 2011.” Gumaer echoes the activist community stating, “The Burma army needs to immediately cease attacks on ethnic civilians in Kachin State.”

The new report displays graphic images of killings perpetrated by Burma army battalions 74 and 276, as well as wanton property destruction, all violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, according to Partners. A Kachin woman, whose 8-year old son was killed on 8 October by the Burma army, is quoted in the report.

“I saw my son face down and there was a lot of blood. He was bleeding from the right side of his chest and from his left hand. I picked up his dead body and took it back to my house. I took his clothes off that night and washed him and washed his clothes. I put clean clothes on him and went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, two Burmese soldiers were inside my house taking my belongings and placing them in bags. They were breaking all the things they didn’t want.”

Partners is calling on the international community to support a UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry into international crimes in Burma, and for donors and UN agencies to call for immediate access to populations affected by the war. “Secretary Clinton should prioritize discussion of these abuses with all levels of Burma’s government and let them know the world is watching, and we’re shocked” says Gumaer.

Partners Relief & Development is a registered charity in six countries. The work of Partners has provided emergency relief and sustainable development for tens of thousands of displaced people in Burma since 1994. Partners actively investigates, documents and reports human rights violations for the purposes of advocacy and awareness. Partners seeks free, full lives for the children of Burma and reconciled communities living in peace.

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Download the report (4.7mb PDF)

Download The Report


Download the press photos (47.8mb ZIP)


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