Minorities suffer from ‘war crimes’ in Myanmar’s north

A leading international advocacy group on Wednesday accused Myanmar military and armed rebels of committing a range of human rights abuses including war crimes against the members of ethnic minorities in Myanmar’s restive Kachin state.

Amnesty International accuses military, rebel groups of violating human rights of minority ethnic groups

“Many civilians in northern Myanmar, as well as experts who have monitored the situation for years, fear the conflict is intensifying — and that violations of human rights and humanitarian law could worsen,” according to an Amnesty International report based on more than 140 interviews conducted on the ground between March and May 2017.

“To avoid such a situation, accountability and respect for human rights need to be at the centre of the Myanmar government’s agenda,” the human rights group said.

It called on all sides to the conflict to end the pattern of violations and abuses against civilians, urging the Myanmar authorities to “end the cycle of impunity by investigating and prosecuting violations by all sides to the conflicts”.

Titled ‘All the Civilians Suffer’: Conflict, Displacement and Abuse in Northern Myanmar, the report details abuses including torture and extrajudicial executions, abduction, forced recruitment and taxation committed by both government troops and some ethnic armed groups that it says could amount to war crimes.

Matthew Wells, Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International said almost 100,000 people had been “torn away from their homes and farms due to conflict and human rights violations in northern Myanmar since fighting restarted in 2011”.

“The international community is familiar with the appalling abuses suffered by the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, but in Kachin and northern Shan States we found a similarly shocking pattern in the Army’s targeting of other ethnic minorities,” he said.

Wells called on all sides to the conflict to protect civilians, and urged the Myanmar government to “immediately end humanitarian access restrictions”.

Fighting between the military and a major rebel group, Kachin Independent Army (KIA), escalated in Kachin state near Myanmar’s northern border with China over the past few years after the 17-year ceasefire agreement ended in 2011.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has made peace and national reconciliation a priority for the administration led by her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Myanmar, however, still witnesses some of the fiercest fighting break out between some rebel groups and the military in northern Kachin state and northeastern Shan state.

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