Bishop Urges Myanmar’s Army To Stop Offensive Against Kachin State

ICC Note: A bishop in conflict-torn Kachin State has warned Myanmar’s military not to reinforce its troops and called for a ceasefire in the run-up to a planned peace conference. Renewed fighting between the Burmese army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) erupted in 2011 after the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire. So far more than 120,000 people have fled to 179 IDP camps in Kachin and neighboring Shan state.   

07/10/2018 Myanmar (UCA News) – Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina in conflict-torn Kachin State has warned Myanmar’s military not to reinforce its troops in ethnic areas in the lead-up to a planned peace conference.

Bishop Tang said there needed to be a halt to fighting to allow dialogue.

He added that civilians, Kachin rebels and soldiers had all suffered hardship and lost lives unnecessarily in the long-running conflict.

The 69-year-old bishop said that amid a lull in clashes, about 300 displaced people had returned to their villages in the Ingyanyang township area.

In January, four Kachin bishops met Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing to talk about prospects for peace in the country’s north.

But Myanmar’s military stepped up offensive operations in Kachin in early April by launching attacks against the secessionists using heavy artillery, helicopters and jet fighters.

The United Nations says more than 7,400 people were displaced by fighting in eight townships — including Tanai, Ingyanyang and Hpakant — in April alone. They have since been sheltering at Catholic and Baptist churches.

Renewed fighting erupted in 2011 following the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire and more than 120,000 people have fled to 179 internally displaced persons’ camps in Kachin and neighboring Shan state.

Most of Kachin’s 1.7 million people are Christians, including 116,000 Catholics.

Bishop Tang told ucanews.com that stakeholders needed to compromise in order to reduce clashes and implement provisions of the 1947 Panglong agreement — between the national government and Kachin, Shan and Chin ethnic groups — covering self-determination and minority rights.

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