June 9, 2013 marks the 2nd anniversary of the Burmese military's breaking of the 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin in northern Burma. Since June 2011, Kachin villagers, plagued by the Burmese military, have been subjected to widespread human rights abuses, including air attacks, heavy-duty shelling, sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and arrests, torture, forced portering, use of Kachin as human shields and landmine sweepers, land seizures, and human trafficking. Tragically, the situation for Kachin civilians continues to deteriorate. Since June 2011, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee attacks by the Burmese Army, seeking shelter in hiding sites and makeshift internally displaced persons camps set up by local Kachin community based organizations. Dangerously low amounts of humanitarian aid have been given to the Kachin IDPs because the Burmese government has blocked aid access, resulting in the deaths of some children, elderly, and women from treatable diseases like diarrhea.
The international community desperately wants to believe Burma’s regime is sincere about reform and reward them for it. We have a responsibility to ensure that international engagement does not come at the expense of the lives of the Kachin.