In response to your recent public comments in the United States regarding the conflict and human rights violations in Kachin State, Kachin communities world-wide would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit internally displaced people (IDP) forced to live in makeshift camps in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State.
The government of Burma, which you are now an elected member of, broke the 17 year-long ceasefire in June 2011 to annex Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) controlled areas. From this time, the Burmese army has not only launched full-scale war against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) but also committed genocide and other heinous human rights violations deliberately attacking innocent civilians. The direct military actions by the Burmese army in a clear violation of Geneva Conventions have resulted in the forced displacement of 100,000 Kachin civilians to date.
Human rights abuses committed by the Burmese army against our people include rape and gang-rape against women and even children, the elderly and disabled; killing many victims of sexual violence; arbitrary executions; torture; mutilations; beatings; forced labour; mortar bombing and burning of villages; looting of villages and other thefts; and use of child soldiers many of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Given the climate of violence, fear and suffering our people are enduring everyday, it is disheartening not to hear you speaking out against injustice for those who have been forcibly silent, instead you declared you have a soft spot for Tatmadaw that your father founded, the very institution that is responsible for such miseries.
As you and your fellow parliamentary members are well aware, the government of Burma is not providing emergency relief and is refusing to allow the free delivery of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of internally displaced people in direct and open violation of international law. In your position as Chair of the Lower House of Parliament’s Rule of Law Committee you have the power to initiate and the responsibility to minimize the immense suffering of Kachin IDPs that includes women and young children who are suffering from malnutrition and other illnesses without sufficient medical or education facilities.
We Kachin had looked to you to speak out about the abuses being committed against our people at least based on humanitarian grounds as you were once silenced by the same regime and were eventually triumphant by unwavering voices of freedom. If you were to speak out, the international community would listen, all the people of Burma regardless of ethnicity or religion will stand up for the wholesale principles of democracy and human rights. As a renowned champion for human rights, by not condemning the abuses in Kachin State you are not only condoning the state-sanctioned violence, but you exemplified to the masses in the country that the notion of conditional human rights is tolerated.
We are concerned by your comments at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom, June 2012, when you stated that there was a need to establish the facts of the root cause of the Kachin conflict. Further, in your meeting with the Burmese Community in the USA on 22nd September, you stated: “Basically, what is it that I have to strongly condemn? If it is a human rights violation as well as any acts of breaching the rule of law then I will strongly condemn.” You are yet to take a stance on the human rights abuses taking place in Kachin State, your statement, combined with the comments you made at the LSE gives the impression to the people of Burma and international community that you do not believe human rights abuses are taking place.
Many international human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch, and international media including the BBC have reported and verified that heinous abuses are committed against the Kachin population by the Burmese army. In March 2012 the United Nations Special Rapporteur stated he had reports of:
“…attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, internal displacement, the use of human shields and forced labour, and the confiscation and destruction of property. He has also received reports of gang rapes by army soldiers, although the numbers provided by different sources vary. In the report of the Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence, it was noted that as many as 32 women and girls throughout Kachin State were allegedly raped by the military between June and August 2011.”
Given the seriousness of the situation outlined above we invite you to visit Mai Ja Yang, where the majority of the IDPs are taking refuge and protection by the KIO. You will be able to hear directly from the victims about the human rights abuses that have been committed against them. You will see for yourself the suffering caused by the Burmese government’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid into these areas. As you often refer to your father General Aung San in your political speeches, we do hope that you uphold his promise for the Union of Burma where all ethnic people including Burman will be equal. As an elected MP and daughter of General Aung San, talk of “unity” while staying silent on the suffering of the ethnic masses will only polarize the country further.
All of those who believe in the cause of human rights and democracy in our country must work together. We must all make efforts to restore trust, and therefore in the spirit of Panglong we extend this invitation to you. You are now able to travel all over the world and speak openly to large audiences. We request that you also travel to Mai Ja Yang in Kachin State, and witness first-hand what is taking place in Kachin State to advocate for the ordinary citizens who are suffering at the hands of their own government. We have trust in you that you will recognize the urgency and importance of this request and not refuse the invitation.
The undersigned Kachin organizations
1. All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU)
2. Kachin Canadian Association
3. Kachin Women's Association Thailand (KWAT)
4. Kachin National Organization (KNO)
5. Kachin Association of Australia (KAA)
6. Kachin Centre-Thailand
7. Kachin Refugee Committee- Malaysia (KRC)
8. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Japan)
9. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Denmark)
10. Kachin Christian Fellowship (KCF-Denmark)
11. Kachin National Organization (KNO-USA)
12. Kachin National Organization (KNO-United Kingdom)
13. Kachin National Organization (KNO-India)
14. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Malaysia)
15. Kachin National Organization (KNO-Australia)
16. Kachin Community in United Kingdom
17. Kachin Community in Sweden (KCS)
18. Kachin Community in Netherlands (KCNL)
19. Kachin Association Norway
20. Kachin Alliance (USA)
21. Pan Kachin Development Society (PKDS)
22. Queensland Kachin Community
23. Singapore Kachin Community
For more information, please contact:
· Gumsan (USA), 001 ( )443 415 8683
· Dr. Nawmai Maran (USA), 001 ( ) 402 990 2553
· Naw San (Thailand), +66 (0) 848119594
· Moon Nay Li (Thailand), +66 (0) 856251912
· Hkahpa Tu Sadan (UK), Mobile: +44 (0) 7538 258961