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Tuesday, Jul 22nd

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Kachin women's group worries about the future for women and children

The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) is very concerned for women and children suffering from the ongoing conflict in Kachin state.

48-year-old Kachin woman was gang-raped on May 1 by Burmese government soldiers in Chipwi township in northeastern Kachin state.KWAT’s coordinator Moon Nay Li said, already approximately 60 women have been brutally raped and killed by Burmese soldiers during offensives against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Those who have fled to internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps along the border are at further risk of succumbing to mental depression or artillery shelling by the Burmese military.

KWAT released a documentary on July 22 with footage of Kachin women and children killed by Burmese artillery attacks in IDPs camps. There are other horrific scenes of women and children running from advancing Burmese soldiers.

One woman profiled in the 6:38 minute-long documentary said when she fled from the Burmese military there were many children with her.

“I ran away with some other women, a one-month old baby and about 90 children. We were very afraid when we heard gunfire. We were worried of artillery fire reaching our hiding area. When we ran we carried the youngest children who had trouble keeping up. We didn’t dare stop to eat.”

The documentary also included a man who described in Kachin finding his dead wife after being brutally murdered by the Burmese military.

“The Burmese military killed my wife, and hid her body near where they slept. When I found her body she was buried near some rocks. They stabbed her in the chest with a knife. They even stole one of her earrings. Her other earring was still in place.”
    
Moon Nay Li said, some of the pregnant woman who managed to escape the fighting and reach the IDPs camps died during labour.

 “One pregnant woman living in Maijayang IDPs Camp was so terrified she died while giving birth. There was no nurse or medicine at the camp to help her. Very few of the IDPs camp have a maternity clinic.”  
Children’s education in the camps is also very poor. There are no desks or chairs. Very few teaching materials are available.

If the conflict in Kachin state continues, many more women and children will suffer from government offensives, said Moon Nay Li.

“If we can’t find a solution to this war soon the lives of countless more woman and children will be affected. More women will become widows when their husbands are killed in the battlefield and forced to be porters for the Burmese military. Their children will become fatherless.”

It’s very important for both sides to find a political solution that will lead towards equality and a peaceful nation. If not, the fighting will continue and the future of many more women and children will be ruined, said Moon Nay Li.