A new 68-page report sheds more light on how the Myanmar military and civilian government may be committing war crimes by blocking lifesaving humanitarian aid to tens of thousands displaced by violence in the Kachin state over the last seven years.
As Myanmar faces increasing international pressure over its genocidal abuses against Rohingya minorities in the Rakhine state, the new report by the human rights group Fortify Rights warns that Myanmar authorities are “weaponizing” and blocking aid in Kachin — where predominantly Christian and Catholic ethnic minorities reside.
The report also suggested that China has privately urged Myanmar to block aid groups and the United Nations from assisting tens of thousands of people near the border of China’s Yunnan Province.
“Consecutive governments and the military have willfully obstructed local and international aid groups, denying Kachin civilians access to aid,” Fortify Rights CEO Matthew Smith said in a statement. “This may amount to a war crime, giving even more reason for the U.N. Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.”
Although it has been widely known since a ceasefire ended in 2011 between the military and rebel forces that civilians in Kachin have lacked adequate access to aid, the new report provides a more detailed look into how and why aid has not reached those communities through 195 interviews conducted over the last five years.
The report states that there are over 106,000 ethnic civilians displaced by conflicts in both the Kachin and Shan states who are now living in more than 140 displacement sites.
Fortify Rights visited 20 displacement camps in Kachin to interview witnesses, survivors, United Nations officials, humanitarian aid advocates, soldiers with the Kachin Independence Army and representatives of the Kachin Independence Organization.
“They block everything,” a 60-year-old displaced Kachin man in KIA-controlled territory said of the Myanmar military, adding that there is “no food for people on the border.”
The man told the researchers that “all trucks that are trying to cross into KIA-controlled areas are blocked.”
The rights group reports that from June 2017 to June 2018, the civilian government of Myanmar (which is headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi and has little control over the military) only provided unconditional approval to about 5 percent of 562 “travel authorization” applications submitted by international humanitarian agencies to aid displaced communities in government-controlled areas of Kachin.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith