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ICC Note: The Kachin ethnic people of Burma, who are estimated to be 98% Christian and reside mostly in the Northeast of the country, have long been discriminated against and at war with the predominantly Buddhist military of Burma. The war has led to thousands of Kachin refugees and dozens of burned down churches. Recently a United Nations human rights envoy was blocked by Burmese authorities from traveling to visit the headquarters of the Kachin, a sign that Burma’s new openness has its limits. 
8/15/2013 Burma (UCANews) – UN rights envoy Tomas Qjea Quintana has been blocked by Myanmar authorities from travelling to Laiza, the headquarters of Kachin rebels in the country’s north.
Quintana has already visited the Kachin state capital of Myitkyina as part of his 10-day visit to Myanmar. Kachin state has been beset by conflict between the government and the Kachin Independence Army since June 2011.
A plan to proceed from Myitkyina to Laiza, the principal town in the rebel controlled region of the state, which borders China, did not materialize. “Since Laiza is not included in the officially approved itinerary of his visit, Quintana was not allowed to go there,” presidential spokesperson Ye Htut said.
Some 40,000 refugees have sought shelter in KIA territory along the border. Despite a recent agreement between the Kachin and government to work towards a ceasefire, refugees are still unable to return to their homes.
“We and the refugees on our side deeply regret the government’s action against him traveling to Laiza,” said Dau Hka, a KIA spokesperson who met with Quintana in Myitkyina on Wednesday said. “His visit there would have strengthened the UN’s involvement in the resolution of this conflict.”
Peace activists said the refusal to let the UN envoy visit Laiza was done to prevent him from witnessing the savagery of the government’s attacks against civilians during military offensives.
“Quintana would be able to witness burned-down villages on his way to Laiza. That’s why he wasn’t allowed to go there,” said Khon Ja, coordinator of the Kachin Peace Network.

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