For immediate release, 7th June 2013
FEDERALISM IS KEY TO GENUINE PEACE
60 Kachin community organisations and Burma campaign groups worldwide in 21 countries will take part in a Global Day of Action today to mark the 2nd anniversary of military attacks by the Burmese government against the Kachin Independence Army and Kachin civilians breaking a 17- year ceasefire.
It has been two years now since the Burmese Army broke the ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army, which resulted in continuous military attacks on a daily basis and human rights abuses against Kachin civilians. During the military attacks, the Burmese Army targets civilians. This constitutes a war crime. Human rights abuses committed by the Burmese Army documented by the United Nations could also qualify as crimes against humanity. Kachin civilians have suffered from human rights violations, including rape of women and children, arbitrary execution, torture, forced labour, mortar bombing, burning and looting of villages. More than 100,000 Kachin civilians have had to flee from their homes to refugee camps and internally displaced areas. The Burmese government continues to restrict access for humanitarian aid to thousands of Kachin refugees. International humanitarian aid is still needed for the IDPs through local relief organisations.
The Global Day of Action highlights the human rights abuses in Kachin areas including widespread sexual violence against ethnic women used as a weapon of war without any repercussions. They are also calling for the establishment of a federal democratic Burma to guarantee a durable peace.
There will be peaceful demonstrations, letter- writing and events in various countries across the world targeting respective governments to put pressure on President U Thein Sein to stop the attacks against the Kachin and commit to a political solution based on the principle of federal democracy and equal rights for ethnic nationalities.
In Burma, various actions will take place where peace activists will lay wreaths at the Independence Monument and there will be a peace demonstration at Inya Lake followed by interfaith prayer event, organised by the Kachin Peace Network together with other community-based organisations.
In the UK, the Kachin community and Burma Campaign UK will hold a protest outside the British Foreign Office to urge William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, to highlight the issue of rape and sexual violence committed by the Burmese government’s forces, and press for federal constitutional reform in Burma.
Although there have been some peace negotiations, there is little progress from the government side to commit to a genuine ceasefire and negotiate on the political root causes in a meaningful way. While the Kachin and other nationalities suffer under the military-backed government, the international community continues to ignore the horrific human rights abuses and has instead rewarded the government by lifting most key sanctions. We strongly urge the international community to actively participate in any future peace negotiations and political process.
“The root cause of the conflict in Kachin State is the lack of national equality based on the current constitution. Without a political solution which is the formation of a federal democratic Burma that guarantees self-determination for the Kachin and all ethnic nationalities, there can never be a durable peace in the country”, said Gawlu La Awng from the Foreign Department of the Kachin Independence Organisation.