Sad 'silent night' for Kachin Christians
Most of the displaced Kachin people are vulnerable children, women and the elderly. After visiting war-torn areas in Kachin State, the National Human Rights Commission stated on Dec. 14 that children in Kachin State appear to suffer from psychological trauma, while adults experience a sense of insecurity and diminished confidence.
Strictly limited by the government, outside aid by international nongovernmental organizations also has not reached Kachin refugees as much as needed.
On Dec. 13, the United Nations Children's Fund provided 300 family kits to displaced families in Laiza—where more than 34,000 refugees stay. The kits contained blankets, clothes and essential household items for basic domestic needs such as cooking, personal hygiene and shelter.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which recently conducted an investigation into allegations of rights abuses and atrocities by the Burmese military in Kachin State, found that between June and September 2011, the army looted food from civilians, fired indiscriminately at villagers, threatened them with attacks and forcibly used them as porters and minesweepers.
The KIA has an estimated 10,000 armed troops and has been fighting for increased autonomy for years. It agreed to a ceasefire with the Burmese government in 1994, but the bilateral agreement broke down in June this year due to mounting tensions.
La Nan, the spokesperson for the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said that military activities will continue for a long time if the government doesn’t make real peace with ethnic minorities.
There will clearly not be peace of any kind before this year’s Christmas holiday, and Shawng San said she would celebrate a low-key Christmas Eve with other displaced people in Maija Yang.
“Some people are not in the mood to celebrate Christmas due to frustration and exhaustion,” she said.
“It is sadness if talking about Christmas. We miss our homes and villages,” said Mai Li Awng. “The dreams of thousands of Kachin people for a happy Christmas have now been shattered.”