The Myanmar (Burmese) Army is waging a “genocidal campaign” against Kachin Christians in northern Myanmar, using the same vicious tactics which have forced nearly a million Rohingya to flee the country.
“What we found in this forgotten part of the world, was worrying evidence of a second genocidal campaign [this time against the Kachin]”, stated a Sky News correspondent yesterday, 4 June.
Attacks on Kachin areas have increased substantially since January. The forces that spent months driving the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority out of western Myanmar are now deployed in the north and applying similar tactics, including helicopters, heavy artillery, and burning villages to the ground. The most recent attacks by the Myanmar army are estimated to have displaced as many as 10,000 civilians from the mainly-Christian Kachin ethnic minority.
One Kachin mother of four told journalists, “The Burmese government is trying to carry out ethnic cleansing of the Kachin people. Whenever they see Kachin civilians they kill them. If they see a Kachin woman they will rape her, even a pregnant woman.”
The renewed assault in April trapped 2,000 Kachin Christians in the jungle, who only recently reached safety by escaping on foot and by elephant. The majority are now sheltering in churches, as local authorities are refusing to allow them to set up camps to live in. The chairman of a local Christian organisation in Kachin State said, “No one is thinking of going back to their homes. They feel it is safer to stay at temporary shelters in churches.”
The Myanmar army has waged a decades-long campaign against what the government claims are Kachin separatist groups. But having escaped international sanction for the ethnic cleansing of minority Rohingya Muslims, authorities in Myanmar now appear to be stepping up their efforts against Kachin Christians in the north of the country.
At the time of writing, there are more than 100,000 people living in 169 internally displaced person camps in Kachin state and in the north of the neighbouring Shan state, according to UNHCR figures.
Barnabas Fund are one of only a tiny number of organisations delivering aid to the Kachin. Barnabas is providing rice, sleeping mats, blankets, tarpaulins (for shelter), and other aid to meet other urgent needs.