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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: 

  1. The United Nations to lead efforts to take decisive action against Myanmar military. We urge the United Nations Security Council to take action in accordance with its 28 April 2006 resolution 1674, “On protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict” and its 31 October 2000 resolution 1325, “On Women, Peace and Security.” 
  2. The actions of the international community must help in protecting the vulnerable members of the Karen community including women, children, the sick and the elderly. Some of them have been exposed to the war environment a situation that has had negative effects on their security, health and wellbeing. 
  3. Immediately dispatch an enhanced monitoring and intervention mission to Myanmar to stop the violent attacks by the junta on peaceful protesters, prevent further bloodshed and loss of life and release all those arbitrarily detained.
  4. Immediately dispatch a well-equipped monitoring and intervention mission to Myanmar/Burma to end the state sponsored human rights violations being perpetrated against civilians. 
  5. Institute a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar/Burma, to end the direct and indirect supply sale or transfer of all weapons and other military equipment that may be used for training, intelligence and military assistance. Further, the embargo must guarantee monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. 
  6. Move forward with targeted sanctions against the extended leadership of the Myanmar/Burma Army, including their family members and military conglomerates in order to usher a direct blow to the economic interests and opportunities of the Tatmadaw Commander in Chief and his affiliates. 

Women Human Rights Defenders of Myanmar 

  1. Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process (AGIPP) 
  2. CEDAW Action Myanmar (CAM)
  3. Gender Equality Network (GEN)
  4. Women Organizations Network (WON) 


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