Burma Army Captures Civilians and Rapes Women as Fighting Continues in Kachin State23 October, 2012 Kachin State, Burma
There are still over 70,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced People) in Kachin State because of the continuing violence in the area. In recent weeks, thousands of IDPs that were taking shelter on the Chinese side of the border have now been forced back into conflict areas in Kachin State. Fighting has now continued for 16 months, since the unraveling of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burma Army and the KIA (Kachin Independence Army) on 9 June 2011. The ceasefire between the two groups was effectively ended when Burma Army Battalions 437 and 438 attacked a KIA post in Sang Gang, Momauk Township in eastern Kachin State. During a speech in the United States on 27 September 2012, President Thein Sein reiterated that the government has placed the cessation of armed conflict with minority groups as a high priority, emphasizing that he has specifically ordered the Burma Army to stop attacks in Kachin State. However, Burma Army attacks in Kachin State have continued ever since last year.
These attacks include human rights violations such as the raping of women. On 8 July 2012, soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 321, Infantry Battalion (IB) 28, and IB 37 raped a 58-year-old woman (name withheld for victim’s protection) from Hpa Re Village in the Pang Wa area. She is married with one child. Burma Army soldiers also raped a 39-year-old who is a widowed mother of 12.
The active Burma Army units in the Pang Wa area include battalions IB 34, IB 37, and IB 74 (all of which are sent from Myitkyina), and LIB 382 and LIB 374 (coming from Nam Ma Township), totaling 700 soldiers. In addition, Border Guard Forces (BGF) remain active in the area. In this area, the Burma Army has been firing 60 mm, 81mm and 120 mm mortars; mortars often land in new IDP hide sites and injure civilians. On 25 May 2012, three villagers (including two children) named Zau Chyang (13 years old), Bawn Myaw (47 years old) and Zau Lang (15 years old) were hit with mortar shrapnel from a 120 mm mortar round. In response to fighting in this area, in June at least 600 new IDPs fled towards the border. These IDPs lack sufficient food, clothing and medical attention.These attacks include human rights violations such as the raping of women. On 8 July 2012, soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 321, Infantry Battalion (IB) 28, and IB 37 raped a 58-year-old woman (name withheld for victim’s protection) from Hpa Re Village in the Pang Wa area. She is married with one child. Burma Army soldiers also raped a 39-year-old who is a widowed mother of 12.
Kachin villagers have also been subject to unlawful captures and torture. On 1 June 2012, BGF Battalion 1001 arrived at Tang Gaw Village and captured 34-year-old Tang Gaw Ting Sau, a Kachin pastor with two sons and a wife. His wife recounted how Burma Army soldiers covered his eyes and beat him after they captured him. He was imprisoned for his alleged association with the KIA. As of the latest report, Burma Army soldiers are still holding him captive.
On 29 May 2012, IB 37 captured 13 villagers from Hpa Re Village and forced them to serve as porters. They were forced to carry water, army supplies and food. The villagers were bound with rope at night and tied together while they walked during the day. Their names are as follows:
1. Kyang Ting Sau
2. Sau Lang
3. Hkaw Ting
4. Guo Ding Sau
5. Ting Htang
6. Bawm Ying Ting
7. Sau Sang Ting
8. Luk Chyang Sau
9. Yaw Ting Lang – 16 years old
10. Hpaw Sau Chyang,- 15 years old
11. Zi Din Sau
12. Ying Wang
13. Sau Ying – 15 years old
Nine of the 13 villagers escaped and fled to a KIA-controlled area for safety. As of late July, four villagers were still being held by the Burma Army. The four who did not escape were Bawm Ying Ting, Kyang Ting Sau, Hkaw Ting and Luk Chyang Sau.
On 21 May 2012, villagers fled from Hpa Re Village, which is comprised of 146 houses that are home to 570 people. Every member of that village was forced to flee and sought shelter at an IDP site on the Chinese side of the border. Despite IDPs being on the Chinese side of the border, at 4:30 pm on 13 June 2012, Burma Army soldiers opened fire with machine guns and one man living at the IDP site was shot in the leg while he was out gathering firewood.
The situation in Kachin State remained volatile through August and September. On 16 August 2012, fighting erupted between approximately 100 Burma Army soldiers from LIB 37 and 70 KIA soldiers stationed at KIA Camp 6 at Pang Wa. On 17 September 2012 in La Ja Yang, fighting between the KIA and Burma Army soldiers from IB 105 and IB 236 started at 5:45 am and continued throughout the day.
God bless you,
Kachin Free Burma Rangers