News / Asia

Burma Accused of Violating International Law in Kachin

A boy holds a bowl of rice in a refugee camp in Laiza, the area controlled by the Kachin in northern Burma, February 12, 2012.
A boy holds a bowl of rice in a refugee camp in Laiza, the area controlled by the Kachin in northern Burma, February 12, 2012.
VOA News
Human Rights Watch issued a statement Friday demanding that Burma’s army cease attacks against rebels in northern Kachin state. The group is also calling on military forces to allow humanitarian aid to reach at-risk populations.
As fighting between Kachin rebels and Burmese forces has crept closer to the rebel headquarters in Laiza, international rights groups say the military’s artillery and airstrikes are indiscriminate and violate international humanitarian law.
Three civilians have been reported killed in recent air and artillery strikes, which government officials initially denied. Presidential spokesperson Ye Htut later confirmed the military operations after video footage of the attacks emerged.
Human Rights Watch has condemned the military operation and called on the president to take action. Phil Robertson is the deputy director of the Asia Division.
"They need to take appropriate caution to make sure that they respect the laws of war and end unlawful attacks against civilians," he said. "Particularly, we're calling on President Thein Sein to say that he should order his commanders to ensure that the laws of war are followed and to ensure that the kinds of attacks that killed the three civilians are not repeated."
Robertson says he is particularly concerned that as the fighting has escalated and drawn nearer to large populations of displaced people, more civilians could be caught in the fighting. He pointed to a statement made by the deputy information minister, who said they could not allow humanitarian assistance in behind enemy lines because it could possibly help Kachin fighters.
Although more peace talks are scheduled to take place this month, aid workers in the region say the Burma army has continued near daily strikes using helicopter gunships and artillery, mostly concentrated around the large population centers near the Chinese border.
David Eubank, founder of the humanitarian organization Free Burma Rangers, said the way the Burma army is behaving violates the terms of the cease-fire, and could jeopardize peace talks.
"The Burma [army] wants to not only hold on to what they've got, they want to expand their control if the cease-fire falls apart because of their ability to move supplies and strengthen their positions during the cease-fire, they'll be in an even stronger position, or if the cease-fire keeps on, they'll be able to negotiate terms more favorable to the control of the Burma army," said Eubank. "So I think the reason is not for peace or for anything good, it's to strengthen the position of the Burma army.
As violence has escalated, local Chinese governments across the border have begun to prepare for a possible refugee crisis. 

Hong Lei, spokesman for the China Foreign Ministry, said authorities are very concerned about the situation on the ground. China is asking the Burmese side to exercise restraint and solve the dispute through dialogue, he said, adding that competent authorities on the Chinese side have taken effective measures to manage the border regions to ensure safety of the border inhabitants.
There is extensive Chinese investment in Kachin state that includes large infrastructure projects such as the suspended Myitsone dam, and border trade comprises a significant portion of the Yunnan economy.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: ravindersinghghotra from: vadodara india
January 20, 2013 9:54 PM
violation of ceasefire is breach of human rights, collateral development will gain huge loss, stop war like practice and donot kill and get killed.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs