Burmese Army Accused of Torture as Kachin Conflict Enters Fourth Year
Three years have passed since fighting resumed between the Burmese Army and Kachin rebels in the north of the country. The Burmese Army was accused of systematically torturing the majority- Christian Kachin with brutal and inhuman tactic, including “beatings, sensory deprivation, and forcing victims to dig what they were told would be their own graves.” Even though the Burmese government claimed to the outside world that no attack is ongoing, the article points out that the Burmese Army has never stopped fighting in the past three years. Many of the Kachin people are still living in temporary shelters and fighting for survival with the bare necessities.
06/09/2014 Burma (IRRAWADDY)- Burma’s military is responsible for “systematically” torturing ethnic Kachin civilians in what may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, a human rights group said on Monday, the three-year anniversary of renewed fighting between the Burmese Army and Kachin rebels in northern Burma.
Bangkok-based Fortify Rights said such practices are ongoing in Kachin and northern Shan states, where fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese Army has flared on and off since June 9, 2011. In a 71-page report, the rights group said civilians suspected of having ties to the KIA were targeted by the army, police and military intelligence officers.
The report, titled “I Thought They Would Kill Me,” describes a variety of torture tactics employed, including beatings, sensory deprivation, and forcing victims to dig what they were told would be their own graves. Others were allegedly sexually assaulted, burned or forced to lick their own blood off the ground after being beaten, according to the report.
“The authorities have tortured Kachin civilians with brutal and inhuman tactics, and those responsible for these crimes have acted with complete impunity for three years,” Matthew Smith, executive director of Fortify Rights, was quoted as saying in a press release. “The government must fulfill its duty to put a stop to these serious crimes and ensure accountability for abuses.”
Fortify Rights said the report was based on 78 interviews with victims of torture and their family members, witnesses, aid workers and KIA officials, from June 2011 to April 2014. The group said it collected evidence that more than 60 civilians were tortured over the period.
Torture tactics were frequently tinged with an element of ethnic or religious discrimination against the majority-Christian Kachin, the report said, adding that several victims told of threats made to destroy the Kachin ethnic identity.
The report said that while it had uncovered no use of torture tactics by the KIA, Fortify Rights “shares concerns expressed by UN officials and others regarding allegations of the KIA’s ongoing use of child soldiers, forced labor, and antipersonnel landmines.”