Kachin Civilians in Burma Killed Despite Agreement to End Hostilities

Source:           www.assistnews.net

Date:              June 30, 2013

By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- A human rights organization is reporting that a Kachin civilian named Zahkung Lum Hkawng was tortured, beaten and shot dead by the Burmese Army in Northern Shan State on June 14.

According to a news release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the killing occurred just weeks after the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) signed a seven point agreement in Myitkyina on May 30.

Wikipedia says, "The Kachin War is one of multiple conflicts collectively referred to as the Burmese Civil War. Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and Myanmar Army restarted in June 2011 after a 17-year-old ceasefire broke down." 
Wikipedia added, "The recent conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the displacement of over 100,000 civilians and the widespread use of landmines, child soldiers, systematic rape and torture."
On the night of June 14, Zahkung Lum Hkawng, 45, was working his shift as a security guard for his village, Nawng Hen, when Burmese troops demanded that the village leader provide a guide for them.

CSW said Lum Hkawng was forced to accompany the troops to Mung Ya Hka Zup village where they clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of the KIO. The Burmese Army troops accused Lum Hkawng of deliberately leading them into an ambush. They beat and tortured him before shooting and killing him.

On the same day, CSW said, an unnamed villager was killed by the Burmese Army at the road between Nan Gat and Ying La villages. A group of villagers from Nawng Hen who tried to retrieve the victim's body were stopped by Burmese Army troops at Nan Gat village and forbidden from going further.

CSW said the same afternoon another round of fighting took place between Burmese troops and the KIA. This gave neighbors the opportunity to take the victim's body back to his remaining family members, including his wife, six children and elderly mother.

CSW said the Burmese Army and KIO are engaged in ongoing talks to resolve the two-year conflict. On May 30 the two sides reached a seven-point deal in which they agreed to "undertake efforts to achieve de- escalation and cessation of ho stilities."

CSW said there is an urgent need to end the conflict, which has resulted in the displacement of at least 100,000 civilians as well as numerous human rights violations.

In a four week fact finding visit to Burma earlier this year, CSW reported testimonies of internally displaced Kachin people who had experienced horrific physical, psychological and sexual torture. 

CSW said its report welcomed signs of political change in the country, but highlighted "many very grave challenges and concerns, particularly in respect to the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief."

Despite the May 30 agreement, CSW said villagers in this area report the daily reinforcement of Burmese troops, prompting fears that incidents like those mentioned above could multiply.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in the news release, "We condemn the killing of these two civilians by Burmese troops. We call on the Burmese Army to take seriously its commitment to the de-escalation of th e conflict, and encourage all parties involved in the conflict to work towards the cessation of hostilities and a lasting peace agreement."

Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information visit www.csw.org.uk.

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