ICC Note: While the international community has joined forces in condemning the atrocities committed against Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar by the military, the largely Christian ethnic group Kachin has suffered equally for decades yet little international support has been shown to them. Years of armed conflict have produced tens of thousands of Kachin IDP refugees and they live with fear and uncertainty not knowing what the future holds. The humanitarian crisis in Kachin state has to be recognized by the world or the atrocities of war will continue.
12/27/2017 Myanmar (Asia Times) – After a long and heavy rainy season, the skies are clear and roads dry again in northern Myanmar.
As the weather has changed from wet to cold, Myanmar’s military has launched a new offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an armed ethnic organization that has been fighting on-and-off for decades for self-determination.
“The winter offensive has come,” says a KIA officer at a frontline post.
Since Myanmar achieved independence in 1948, fighting has never fully stopped in its many ethnic states. As signs point to an especially brutal cold season campaign in 2018, many in Kachin state hope the international community will finally come to their aid.
Cold season offensives have intensified as the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has ramped up aerial bombardments and long-range shelling, indiscriminate bombings that have driven tens of thousands into internally displaced person (IDP) camps in various areas of Kachin state.
An unknown number of civilians have been killed in assaults that have gone widely unnoticed in the international eye.
In December 2012, five military jet fighters and two helicopter gunships were deployed in a brutal attack on LaJa Yang, a large town in territory administered by the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), a political group aligned with the KIA.
In December 2015, the military overtly targeted civilians, witnessed in the indiscriminate bombing of schools, shooting of innocent civilians and widespread reports of soldiers raping women in northern Shan state. Civil society groups openly accused the military of “war crimes” during that year’s assaults.
In January 2017, the Myanmar military’s massive shelling forced thousands of civilians who had fled previous offensives from their IDP camps in another KIO-controlled area.
Their attempts to cross into neighboring China were blocked by Chinese troops, leaving many would-be refugees without adequate shelter in harsh winter conditions.