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ICYMI: Burma’s Crimes Against Humanity in the Headlines

Headlines continue to cover the well-known persecution and forced removal of Rohingya Muslims from Burma, but we're also beginning to see more visible coverage of Burma's lesser known conflict with the Kachin, a mostly Christian ethnic group near Burma’s resource-rich northern border.

Article by Jieun Pyun June 6, 2018 //   3 minute read
Burmese soldier. (Warin Keawchookul / Shutterstock)

The Washington Post Editorial Board met with Liberty and Leadership Scholar Aung Kyaw Moe in late April. The paper has since released a series of opinion pieces on the atrocities of the Burmese military, including the following:

Burma’s crimes against humanity went unpunished. No wonder it’s at it again.

In Burma, the jailing of journalists sheds light on a deeper crisis

Last week’s editorial covers the well-known persecution and forced removal of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims, as well as the lesser known ongoing conflict with the Kachin, a mostly Christian ethnic group near Burma’s resource-rich northern border with China.

The Kachin people have recently faced air strikes and gun fire, with new clashes being described as the most intense in decades. Unlike the Rohingya, the Kachin have a well-organized military, the Kachin Independence Army, that fights back against Burma’s military. Lucrative natural resources in the area including gold, amber, jade, copper, and ruby have fueled the decades-long ‘resource war’ in the state.

The main concern among human rights groups is the survival of Kachin civilians, many who have been killed or displaced in recent government bombings. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates 7,500 Kachin residents have been displaced since April, and reports indicate the military is blocking relief supplies.

“The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, feels free to pursue this genocidal policy because it has suffered virtually no consequences for what human rights groups and senior U.N. officials describe as blatant crimes against humanity,” writes the Post.

The piece rightly urges the U.S. government to more aggressively pursue sanctions on the generals involved and to hold Burma’s military accountable for its systematic abuse of its people.

“Grave crimes have been carried out against defenseless civilians. If there is no serious response, the atrocities will be repeated – and not only in Burma,” they conclude.

For more coverage on Burma’s ongoing ethnic crises, read:

For more on Bush Institute’s effort to support Burma’s democratic transition, visit our Liberty and Leadership Program website.