MON STATE — The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) accused the Myanmar military of genocide and human rights abuses including rape and murder on Saturday to mark the seven-year anniversary of fighting in Kachin State.
In a speech broadcast by the KIA’s State TV from Laiza, the group’s headquarters, Colonel Naw Bu, a spokesman for the KIA, said the adversaries had clashed 3,862 times since the collapse of a bilateral ceasefire agreement in 2011.
“There have been 447 clashes from the beginning of 2017 to May 2018 alone,” he said, claiming that the KIA only fights in self-defense.
Col. Naw Bu said the military has deployed 108 battalions against the KIA in Kachin since 2011 and another 90 in territory the group claims in northern Shan State. He said the military has also formed five militias in Kachin and 29 in Shan to fight the KIA as well.
The military itself, he added, fired on KIA forces more than 400 times since the start of 2017 and shelled them over 430 times in strikes that also hit towns and villages, killing four civilians and wounding six.
The spokesman also claimed that landmines laid by the military have injured 1,339 people over the past seven years, including 19 children and some KIA fighters.
The fighting has destroyed 406 villages and driven some 130,000 people from their homes — including some 6,000 since early 2017 — to 13 refugee camps spread across several townships, he said. The inventory of destroyed buildings, he continued, included 24 Buddhist monasteries, 256 schools, 264 hospitals and clinics and 311 churches.
Col. Naw Bu accused the military of having raped 124 women and murdered 90 of them.
The KIA said at least 300 innocent people have been arrested over the course of the fighting and that 78 of them were tortured in custody. Activists have also been arrested and convicted for staging protests against the fighting without permission.
The spokesman accused the military of genocide and of a campaign to Burmanize the Kachin as well as the country’s other ethnic minorities. He said the fighting continues only because the military has repeatedly rejected the KIA’s offers to negotiate a peace deal.
The military in turn has blamed the latest round of fighting that broke out earlier this year on the KIA and denied that it had launched an offensive.