All Lives Institute
All Lives Institute

Extrajudicial killing of the Kachin in Myanmar (HIIN=35)

You have never heard of the Kachin, and they know this is so.

The Kachin are an indigenous ethnic grouping living in northern Myanmar in Kachin state. They are agriculturalists and Christians predominately, in a country that is 89% Buddhist, and they believe they are undergoing a genocide at the hands of the government backed Tatmadaw military.

Foreign media and aid has been blocked from Kachin state, refugees from the conflict have been returned from the Chinese border to the north since 2012, mountains entrap them to the west and hostile forces lie in the south. The Kachin have been isolated politically and geographically, entrapped by state forces that seek to erase them, and use debilitating methods to do so. The UN OHCR noted "Consistent patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses... perpetrated by Myanmar security forces...including the deliberate targeting of civilians".

Myanmar's security forces are accused of repeated pogroms, attacking communities with air support, engaging in torture, abductions, sexual violence, rape, use of civilians as human shields in assaults, use of civilians in clearing minefields, blocking legal aid to internally displaced persons, and violent control and exploitation of local natural resources in jade and amber mines. In addition to spectacular violence inflicted upon them, the Kachin have fallen foul of legal constructions which have been prepared, to legitimise their erasure. Their land is being used by Chinese firms for agriculture, their ownership of the land being refuted due to insufficient documentation, their language is not recognised by courts or the state, the buttresses of continuity of identity and recourse to justice denied to them.

The same OHCR report stated "the impetus for accountability must come from the international community" but few Kachin would hold fast to that hope. The Myanmar government learned the boundaries of impunity in Rakhine state with the Rohingya, and has made a veritable tool out of the response, or lack thereof, of the international community. Their security forces have weaponised the denial of aid to further their goals, no less than the end of the Kachin people as a people.

The Kachin are being ground under a project of constructing national unity in the face of disunity. The Tatmadaw asserts their legitimacy and necessity through leveraging ethnic conflicts, articulated under artificial intersubjectivities of difference. National identity, and national development will subsume the Kachin as a matter of logical imperative. Myanmar will assure its development through an economic corridor with China through its northern state, and assure its unity through the creation and destruction of indigenous 'others', and the Kachin, and others, will be no more.

The Kachin know a deaf, and toothless, international community, and understand themselves as in conflict for their very continued existence, against a military who's policy is "A crow may live amongst peacocks, but it is still a crow".

All human life is sacred. For that reason I support all the oppressed and neglected people mentioned on this website and in particular the Kachin people with whom I have had personal knowledge and contact. Proinsias de h-Óra.

The Kachin: killed with Impunity in 2023

After the 2021 coup in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted, sparking fighting between the junta, ethnic rebel groups and the newer 'People's Defense Forces'. 3,747 people have since died at the hands of the junta, with more than 23,000 arrested. Some 40 aid workers have been killed. Over 1.2m people are currently displaced across the country. Mainly in the Rakhine, Kachin, Chin, and Shan States, 866K people have been displaced by clashes and insecurity since February 2021. Displacement exacerbates mental health issues amongst surviving children and their parents. Everybody suffers.

In July, 2023, the United Nations in Geneva urged the international community to deny Myanmar's junta access to foreign weapons and currency. Clashes broke out in July, between junta troops and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the Waingmaw Township, in the northern Kachin State. Over 1,000 people were displaced. Junta troops advanced toward Nam San Yang Village, about 20 km from Laiza town, which is home to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) headquarters. In a report, the Kachin News Group quoted a KIA spokesperson as saying that the "fighting will become intense if junta troops push further". The KIA holds its own but the price in lives is high.

Many residents have fled their homes in the recent conflicts and are taking refuge in churches in Kachin State's Waingmaw town and nearby villages. The area has a long history of conflict. Residents of the Nam San Yang village, in the Waingmaw Township, had returned to their village in December 2018 after it had been deserted for nearly 8 years because of fighting, between the junta and KIA forces, since 2011. The UN Human Rights Chief, Volker Turk said: "we need to prevent the supply of arms to the military and to analyse the economic interests that are behind it". Analysing the economic interests, not only in the killing of the Kachin, would reveal much (if ever carried out).