Churches Attacked, Women Raped and Civilians Killed in Kachin State
22 October 2011: Burma’s military soldiers have been slammed for attacking churches, raping women and killing civilians in its ongoing launch of offensives against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State, a report by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said.
The report accused the army soldiers of beating up pastors and church members, destroying homes and torturing Kachin locals during their military operations across villages in Burma’s northern region.
Last Sunday, 23 members of a Roman Catholic Church in Namsan Yang village, Waimaw Township, were threatened with gunfire inside the sanctuary, and a 49-year-old Kachin pastor and four other men were detained, according to the report released yesterday.
Properties of a Baptist church, whose compound was used for temporary station by both the soldiers and detainees, were destroyed while parts of the village were burned down by the military.
Earlier this week, a 19-year-old girl named, Maran Kawbu, was tortured and gang-raped by Burma’s soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 438, the report revealed. A 19-year-old Rakhine boy and a Shan farmer were also shot to death.
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday branded Burma’s armed forces as having committed serious human rights abuses againt Kachin civilians, saying the soldiers are responsible for killings and attacks on civilians, using forced labor, and pillaging villages.
Three days ago in Namsan Yang village, at least 20 villagers were detained and used for forced labour by Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 121, CSW’s report added.
Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia Team Leader said: “These brutal attacks on religious communities and peaceful civilians stand in stark contrast to the regime’s recent rhetoric about reform and peace building. CSW has received numerous reports of rape, torture and killing of civilians in Kachin State by the Burma Army this year.”
“We urge President Thein Sein to call a halt to the military’s attacks on civilians throughout Burma, stop the widespread and systematic violations of human rights, declare a nationwide ceasefire, and enter into a meaningful dialogue process with all the ethnic nationalities and the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, in pursuit of genuine national reconciliation.”
The ongoing armed conflict starting in June has created the displaced of an estimated 30,000 people in Kachin State along the China-Burma border, where the Chinese government is claimed to have deployed up to 2,000 troops to prevent the flows of refugees into its territory.
A recent report by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) exposed that more than 30 women and girls have been raped, with 13 of them killed by Burma Army soldiers since June this year.
In recent days, the clashes between Burma Army soldiers and KIA forces have intensified despite President Thein Sein’s move towards a democratic change in the country, according to sources.
Van Biak Thang