Urgent Appeal by Civil Society and Faith Organisations Kachin and Shan States, 20 December 2016

21 December 2016

Civil Society and Faith Organisations have issued an urgent appeal about worsening crisis in Myanmar. It is time for government and international community to stop responding to ethnic repression as exceptions but examples of deep challenges in the country.

As leaders of civil society and faith organisations in the Kachin and Shan States, we call upon the National League for Democracy government to take immediate action to halt military offensives, protect the lives of internally-displaced persons and local citizens whose lives are at extreme threat, and prioritize the achievement of nationwide peace that it promised upon taking office. At a time when all the people seek peace, the national armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, continue to pursue different policies in the northeast of the country, furthering displacement and the suffering of local communities. This is not what the people desired or expected when the National League for Democracy was voted into office by popular mandate last year.

The situation is now especially perilous for internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in the Kachin State. In modern warfare, civilians are often the main casualties in conflict. Despite peace talks and the promises of a nationwide ceasefire, the Tatmadaw has continued military operations against the Gidon post of the Kachin Independence Organisations for several months. During the past days, the fighting has seriously escalated, with the national armed forces launching repeated attacks, including airstrikes and heavy artillery. The offensive is affecting civilian areas, with shells landing near IDPs and traumatizing those in the Mung Lai Hkyet (WoiChyai) camp.They have nowhere left to flee except to Laiza, with only China beyond where more IDPs and civilians recently sought sanctuary. The recent aerial bombardments in Mung Gu, Northern Shan state, had seen significant civilian casualties, serious damage to the local livelihood, public buildings and civilian properties, as well as mass displacements.

Amidst such suffering, the people are asking if this is really the policy of the National League for Democracy government? The silence from the government and international community has been deafening. Just three months ago, hopes had been high after the Union Peace Conference, known as the “21st Century Panglong”. But since this time, military operations have increased, and despair is growing among ethnic nationality peoples in many parts of the country.

We therefore call, as a matter of national priority, for an immediate halt to military offensives and for State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to visit the IDP communities in Kachin State and Northern Shan State to see for herself the grave conditions under which they live. It is the duty of the government to protect the lives and rights of all peoples. The humanitarian crisis is now urgent, and hopes for the achievement of nationwide peace under the present government are diminishing.

We also call for urgent international attention and relief. During the past five years, the international peace industry has neglected the deteriorating crisis in northeast Myanmar while concentrating on peace initiatives elsewhere. This has been a major error and fails to understand the political crisis in our country. Peace and democracy will not be established until they are inclusive and the rights of all peoples are respected equally.

For contact, please call:

  1. Fr. Thomas Htang Shan Mong, National Director, Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Bishop Conference Myanmar (CBCM) thomas22ph@gmail.com 09797795155
  2. Saw Min Naing, Metta Development Foundation, saw.min.naing@metta-myanmar.org 095198822
  3. May Sabe Phyu, Coordinator, Kachin Women Peace Network, maysabephyu@gmail.com, 09778875859
  4. Khon Ja, Coordinator, Kachin Peace Network, khonja2014@gmail.com, 09425288899