Statement to denounce increased airstrikes in Karen and Kachin States
The Myanmar/Burma military has been launching air strikes since 27 March 2021. The effect of these airstrikes is that many civilians who were fleeing the danger zone are automatically converted to internally displaced persons (IDPs) or are soon to become refugees as over 3000 have crossed the borders. There has been tension and violence between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Myanmar army in the frontier regions. This has increased the number of IDPs and refugees with some of them crossing to neighboring nations, such as Thailand. operates on the border between Myanmar and Thailand. There is need for the international community and especially the neighboring countries, such as Thailand to provide the needed support to the Karen IDPs. Support can come in different forms including provision of security, food aid and medical supplies.
Kachin State is another area where there has been an increase in the military’s offensive against communities with tension mounting between the military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Since February, there have been armed conflicts that have occurred between the KIA and the military. These violent conflicts have had devastating effects on the lives of civilians, including women, mothers and children. Many of the residents of this northern region of Myanmar have had to flee their homes in order to look for safer grounds. It is despicable act of the Myanmar military to attack on these ethnic regions, causing the people are being displaced at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is still raging in the world. Should there be an outbreak of the disease in the IDP camps, then this may have devastating effects on the displaced community. Women’s organizations have mounted documented evidence of the nexus between the Covid-19 situation and armed conflict have exacerbated the multifaceted insecurities of women and children in the ethnic areas.
The conflict situation has affected other sectors, such as education, transport and healthcare. Peace and stability would help ensure resumption of activities in these sectors. The situation in Myanmar is deteriorating quickly meaning that there is need for urgent action to be taken to prevent the conflict escalating into full crisis. The Myanmar military does not follow the international Law on civilian protection. The actions of the military are governed by Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. This article protects civilians who are not taking part in active hostilities against violence to their life and person. Furthermore, Article 51(3) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provide further protection against civilians to the extent that they are protected against the operations of the military – unless such civilians are part of the hostilities (International Committee of the Red Cross, n.d.). But indiscriminate shootings in the cities and airstrikes in the ethnic areas have shown that the military is not applying these international law articles in their actions. From this, it is seen that the Myanmar military has broken the code of the need to protect civilians in armed conflict. The manner in which the military has applied itself and the number of civilian casualties that have been experienced call for the enforcement of the article in order to protect escalation of the conflict.
In light of the above developments, women human rights defenders of Myanmar call for:
Women Human Rights Defenders of Myanmar