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Silent Images in Burma

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Published on May 10, 2012

Silent Images photographer, David Johnson, slips across the border into Burma and gets a rare glimpse into the lives of the Kachin refugees. Please contact Silent Images if you would like for this gallery to visit your city, church or home.


Story of the Kachin reported from the Amnesty International:
"Amnesty International has accused Myanmar's military
of committing crimes against humanity in ethnic conflict zones, where
ongoing fighting has overshadowed sweeping political changes.

The rights group also alleged that authorities had blocked
humanitarian aid from reaching tens of thousands of desperate refugees
in conflict areas and said soldiers had sexually assaulted civilians.

"The government enacted limited political and economic reforms, but
human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian
law in ethnic minority areas increased during the year," Amnesty said
in its annual report.

"Some of these amounted to crimes against humanity or war crimes."

The Myanmar army had launched "indiscriminate attacks" that at times
targeted ethnic minority civilians, it said.

In northern Kachin, where a decades-old conflict erupted again last
year, there were reports of extrajudicial executions, shelling that
killed children, forced labour and unlawful destruction of food and
property, it said.

In neighbouring Shan state, civilians were tortured, arbitrarily
detained and forcibly relocated, according to Amnesty.

"Soldiers reportedly sexually assaulted Kachin and Shan civilians," it added.

There were credible accounts of the army using prison convicts as
porters, human shields and mine sweepers, it said.

Myanmar's quasi-civilian government has agreed ceasefires with several
armed ethnic minority groups since coming to power last year, raising
hopes of an end to civil war that has gripped parts of the country
since independence in 1948.

But a series of meetings with the rebels fighting in Kachin, where a
17-year ceasefire was shattered last year, have failed to end the
violence there.

The reformist regime recently overhauled its negotiating team, putting
the president at the helm of the process and removing some elements of
the previous delegation seen by Kachin rebels as linked to army
hardliners.

President Thein Sein's government has won international praise for
releasing hundreds of political prisoners and welcoming pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party back into mainstream politics.

An end to the conflicts and alleged rights abuses are key demands of
the international community, which has begun to roll back sanctions."

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