Burma: continued ethnic cleansing of Christian Kachin

Published 17 February 2014
AP

The Burmese Army (the Tatmadaw) is continuing its campaign of ethnic cleansing in resource-rich Kachin State. The Christian Kachin have long resisted the Burman Buddhist regime's brutal dictatorship. While the Kachin want autonomy so they can freely maintain their culture, the Burman Buddhist elite and military want complete control of Kachin land so they can exploit its resources. The situation in Burma is reminiscent of that in Sudan, where the Islamist-Arab regime in Khartoum is doing the same in the resource-rich mostly Christian, African south. Similar situations exist in Papua, Indonesia and in Vietnam's Central Highlands. In each case, the resistance of the predominantly Christian ethnic peoples is met with extreme military violence and ethnic cleansing motivated by greed and fuelled by state-sanctioned racial and religious hatred.

On the morning of 30 January, Burma Army troops attacked Nam Gau Village of Mansi township in south Kachin State. More than 2000 people had already fled attacks in the area in November-December 2013 and now the remnant has also fled. The Burma Army took 20 villagers captive and thoroughly looted the village. Later that day soldiers of the Kachin Army led some villagers back to help them gather what remained of their belongings. At that point the Burma Army returned and a fierce fire-fight ensued. The next day Burma Army reinforcements arrived and the fighting escalated with the Burma Army attacking nearby Nam San Village also, firing heavy mortar rounds on civilian homes. Whilst ultimately the Kachin Army was driven out, it moved on to attack the Burma Army base, forcing the Burma Army to abandon the villages to defend their base. Other Kachin soldiers helped the local people collect what remained of their bel ongings. When the Free Burma Rangers relief teams conducted a medical clinic for those displaced in nearby Nam Lim Pa on 30 January, they found three bodies with clear evidence of torture. The ethnic cleansing continues.

Despite propaganda to the contrary, the situation faced by the Kachin is actually worse than ever. In the past, when Burma was aligned with China, the West would attack the junta by exposing human rights abuses and championing the rights of the persecuted ethnic nations. However, when Burma re-aligned and sought rapprochement with the West, everything changed. All the West can see now is an opportunity to make great economic and geo-strategic gains in Burma. Nevertheless, before Western politicians could engage with Burma, Burma's image problem had to be dealt with. In reality, Burma's political 'reforms' are cosmetic and 'peace talks' are a stalling tactic. The government is essentially powerless, a mere front for the military which still calls the shots. The reforms really are all about image.

In an act of extreme betrayal, the 'international community' is allowing the regime in Naypyidaw to control all distribution of international aid. Therefore the Kachin Army fights to defend the Christian Kachin from Burma Army aggression and expansion but the regime controls the aid. Like the regime in Sudan, the regime here uses this tactic to infiltrate deep into hostile territory where it then sets up offices and distribution centres and consolidates its presence. Thus the war-ravaged Christian Kachin are forced to choose between holding their ground and starving, or opening the door to the regime. As a retired US Army Special Forces officer, Tim Heinemann, notes: 'This is effectively international support for Burman-led counter-insurgency operations.' (Asia Times, 23 January 2014). It seems the West is prepared to ignore gross human rights abuses and war crimes to get access to Burma's vast and untapped resources, markets and cheap labour. Once their champion, now the We st wants the ethnic nations to submit and co-operate. In July 2013 the British government even approved arms export licences to Burma worth over US$5 million.

[International Day of Prayer for Burma: 9 March 2014, See http://www.freeburmarangers.org ]

Please pray specifically that God will:
• preserve, sustain and raise up godly leaders amongst the severely persecuted, Christian Kachin; may these leaders be blessed with great and effective power from the Holy Spirit to comfort and encourage their traumatised, war-ravaged peoples so that they do not fall into despair and lose hope in the LORD; may their faith shine brightly in Burma's darkness.

'My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD." . . . But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; hi s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."' (Lamentations 3:17,18 and 21-24 ESV)

• intervene in Burma to defend and sustain his people, shielding them from harm and providing their needs while exposing and fighting their enemies. (See Isaiah 40:10,11 and 59:14-19)

'Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain . . .' (Habakkuk 2:9 NIV)

Reprints

More News in World