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Kachin group boycotts Suu Kyi award ceremony

A Kachin group in the US said it would boycott Aung San Suu Kyi’s Congressional award ceremony on Wednesday, while asking her to speak out and use her influence to help solve the Kachin conflict with the Burmese government.

Leaders of the Kachin Alliance USA (KA-USA) said in an open letter that  the group had turned down their invitation to attend the award event in the capitol's Rotunda, which is expected to be closely followed by US and international media, according to the Kachin News Group (KNG).

“We Kachins cannot, however, participate…mindful of the untold miseries our kinsmen in Kachinland are currently going through,” said an open letter released to the media.

“We feel that it is inappropriate for us to rejoice and celebrate when thousands of our people are displaced by renewed fighting and in dire need of the most basic of human needs, when they have to live in constant fear and uncertainty, when Chinese authorities have dismantled refugee camps on their borders and sent them back into conflict zones, when their rights are being violated even in the sanctity of a church-run camp in government- controlled territory,” said the letter.

The letter urged Aung San Suu Kyi to take more interest in the Kachin conflict and to advocate for Kachin refugees.

In an interview with the KNG, KA-USA spokesperson Nsang Gum San said it was asking for her to help and seek a long-term solution to ethnic problems.

Suu Kyi's refusal to speak out more forcefully against the military's aggression in Kachin State upsets many Kachin, said KNG.

Despite the fact that leading human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch have issued detailed reports accusing Burmese military forces of committing serious human rights abuses against Kachin, Suu Kyi has avoided directly criticizing the army's actions in Kachin state, said the news group.

At a speech at the London School of Economics in June, Suu Kyi reportedly said that it was still unclear what was going on in Kachin State because there is a lack of “independent observers” on the ground, which has resulted in a situation where there are “different accusations coming in from different directions,” said the KNG article.

“But when it comes to condemnation we want to know what's happening more clearly before we condemn one party or the other,” she said. She said, “Resolving conflict is not about condemnation, it’s about finding out the roots, the causes of that conflict and finding out how it can be resolved in the best way possible.”

The KNG quoted a Kachin human rights activist, who said: “How can Aung San Suu Kyi not be aware of the Human Rights Watch report about war crimes in Kachin state?  She needs to speak out and criticize the army or the Kachin people won't trust her.”