ASIA/MYANMAR - Two Christians have disappeared in Kachin state, while the conflict continues

Thursday, 19 January 2017 religious minorities   ethnic minorities   human rights   displaced persons   civil society   dialogue  

Myitkyina (Agenzia Fides) - Two ethnic Kachin Christian leaders have disappeared in Kachin state, Burmese state where fighting between separatist groups and the regular army continues and where the flow of refugees continues: there is no news of Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng, two Kachin Christians, who have been missing since last Christmas and there is fear that they have been kidnapped by the Burmese military. The two had moved from the city of Mong Ko to the city of Muse, in Shan state, to discuss the case of the arrest of a local man, they know, with the military stationed on the spot.
According to local sources of Fides, the responsibility for the disappearance of the two is attributed to the army. Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng had also worked as "stringers" (local guides), accompanying some journalists in Kachin state and showing a Catholic church bombed and damaged by the Burmese military. Their seizure could be a military retaliation in response to this act of "bad propaganda".
Reached by Fides, Fr. Joseph Yung Wa, a priest of the diocese of Myitkyina, Kachin state capital, said: "The situation is still very tense. Fighting continues and the suffering of the civilian population does not stop. Refugees are increasing and struggling to live. People are desperate. In Myitkyina, as local Church we assist more than five thousand internally displaced persons".
There were hopes in the area after the conference on reconciliation with ethnic minorities, organized by the Burmese government in September 2016: "That conference did not have an impact in our reality. The presence of the military is invasive, we hope that the Burmese government promptly show interest towards true peace and returns a dignified and peaceful life to the local population, made up of farmers", concludes the priest.
"In this new phase of democracy in Burma, it is shocking to learn of the death of two Christian Kachin leaders and other human rights violations still committed by the military. We call on the authorities in Myanmar to intervene immediately and clarify the case", asks the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" (CSW). "Human rights abuses are still being committed in the Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states" says a note of the NGO sent to Fides, asking for a special UN Commission of Inquiry for Myanmar, "where crimes against humanity are committed with impunity" points CSW. The request for a special Commission of inquiry is shared by a network of 40 organizations of Burmese civil society, which submitted it to Korean Yanghee Lee, Special United Nations Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country, who is about to end her visit in Myanmar, from January 9 to 20. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/01/2017)