Monday, September 26, 2011

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Voices from Bottom ... 26 September 2011

Voices from Bottom
Helen Joe

Laiza, Kachin State—Beneath a makeshift roof in the drizzling rain, a funeral took place on 12 July Friday for an eight-year-old Kachin boy who died from diarrhea the night before—the first casualty among the estimated over 20000 refugees living in five camps in and around Laiza, Kachin State, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The child’s mother who was also living in the camp suffered from cholera and malaria too. She did not know when would be the last day in her life or if she could in fact survive another day. She had no money for the medicine and food she needed. Nor did she know where to get it (it means money here). Sometimes she would just kneel on the concrete floor where she slept at night and prayed that the civil war would end soon. She also prayed for the consolation of the sick and hungry children whose cries could be heard everywhere around the camps. Finally, she would pray that God would give her strength to fight the illness that haunted her.

Even though there were doctors and nurses in the camp, they could not give her much attention because they had to heed the needs of other urgent patients who might have been queuing for 3 days.

The Kachin state, in where the camps are, is situated in the northern part of Burma. Covered by green forests and clear rivers, it is rich in natural resources.

Many ethics groups used to live peacefully together in the district. Though the area may look peaceful, the military dictatorship has been present for over 60 years to exploit the natives. In response, the anti-government group Kachin Independent Army (KIA) was founded during the 1940’s and its members have been helping the Kachin ethnic minorities who are deprived of citizen rights.

More recently, KIA refused to join the border guard army force as requested by the police, and since then, there have been frequent clashes between the two sides.

From time to time some conflict took place KIA and government military, but on 22June , 2011  a huge massive fighting started near KIA headquarters. The core reasons which promote the conflict were that  the government offensively had forced  the natives  from their home and  confiscated their properties in order to built  the first two dams on Irrawaddy river which  ran across the KIA head quarters  as a part of a hydro-electric power plant to be constructed by  Chinese company .
Most villagers from around the project area were  forced to relocate to a  new village. The KIA opposed the construction and was concerned about  the environmental issues which would affect the lical people. Moreover  the  propose location for dams were close to the earthquake zone. So after the construction,  the dam might still be broken  easily with  many tragic and  undesiable consequences could happen next . Despite all, the junta thought that it would not be a big deal.

The Irrawaddy river is the major river in Burma and many lives such as fishing flocks, farmers , river runners, gold searchers, even many kinds of living things depend on this river and it can be called  the life of Myanmar.
However the  company  give sweetheart deal with the Government as a result the construction started room .At the same time, the company planed  to  build  at least another seven dams  in the kachin land as soon as the Irrawady dams were successfully built.
 The  other  reason which led the firing was that one of the KIA officers Chang Ying was painfully ,repeatedly tortured and  found  dead with  several wounds and signs of gruesome torture all over the whole body . The injuries included  stab wounds, made  by Burmese troops, a claim that could not be verified. For their part, Myanmar authorities had not shown any responsibility ,even deny to  give confess.
On June 22,2011, 4:30 pm, in Putao distinct the gun fighting erupted between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army .As the war  begins , the most suffering  are citizens  and  the many   villagers flee  from   their beloved home and  town . Some  of them ran away  with  little clothes and money… but  many are  dash away  with empty-handed even in the middle of midnight .  In some  event , some family  lost the way and  their member in jungle  on the way of searching the haven . The sound of  Gun fire is like a  poison which is  watering at the peace plant .
"We are ordered to move out with threats but we don't know where to go and how we will survive," said a local villager interviewed for the report.
Many of those fleeing want to cross into China. However, Chinese officials have refused entry, saying the fighting is not close enough to the border to grant asylum.From this point the Kachin refugees are trapped between the fighting and unwelcome Chinese government ,have no exist .
Most IDPs are being sheltered now  in temporary camps in the territories of the KIA  and  in church compound some have fled to major towns in government-controlled areas in Kachin State and the rest are in Jungle . According to some expectation , The number of Kachin Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has reached over 40,000 in September .

Days  by days ,  The  kachin troop army is facing  the difficulties  to  handle the  rapidity rising of  refugees . Local Kachin  people who stay near   the KIA  headquarter and churches have been helping but it is not enough. International aid is urgently needed. Some local NGOs are concerning  about the refugees and want to donate but the Government  allowed no domestic NGOs to give relief assistance to  Kachin IDP. Many of the war refugees are women and children . Their husbands, who asked them to leave with the children and for their safety , stayed behind to take care of the crops. In other hand , it is not safe to  live  women in the village because the Burmese army are usually abuse , torture,  rape and may  have  been killed  the women .
Now the  terrible things are  the  IDP ‘s  have  to sleep on the floor, surrounded by children playing, sick people sleeping and families eating in the dusty, smoky hall or  in tiny room.  The deficiency    of proper food  is starting to cause  malnutrition among the children and also lack of  hygienic  problem  seems to spread the disease   among  people. Most children are depart  form their school ,face the horrible  impact of war and the  miserable  livelihood trap them .
This moment , the  unkind rain and wind blow the temporarily makeshift tent make the IDPs  displace again .Many children and women  suffer  form diarrhea and  haven’t got adequate food  for more than weeks , and malnutrition level become rise.

No one know that how long the civil war takes and when the refugee can get sufficient  food. The compromising  to stop civil  war between the Government and KIA are still filled .
The president do   accuse the ethnic Kachin militia of terrorism  in the fighting and don’t allow the problems of kachin IDP through news paper , and don’t disclose the case in the new parliament desk, might think that it is not their responsible .
 I am now  really worried for Kachin IDP who cann’t get the international support and local.The food security and right  to health and  life  ,even  citizen’s right can’t  find in them. However cases from inside Kachin State like rape, killing, torture and porter usage of civilians by Burmese soldiers are occurring throughout the state. However, this kind of  unsolved problem  have been remain  keep in the silent .My  deep sympathy  for the IDPs  still alert me  whenever I  rest in my bed and  have something to eat .Many question still alive in my mind that why  our  people  have to face the things ,  how  the people  can hope for  the future and  trust the new Gov  ?when the state become stable ?  When the  people get their  right ?  when this military mechanism end?  Definitely , people want  changes from Government  and a  little change may be  relieved  their  pains which is suffering  for long time .
According to Christian believe , the only thing I  can do is praying . The prayers  for  IDP's and  theBurmese citizen are gradually rising above the sky where God can hear  the tone of requesting  voices .

Thank you


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