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Thousands of Ethnic Lisu protest in Myanmar, demand Army to apologize for the Killings

The ethnic armed group, which controls large swathes of northeastern Kachin state, has regularly engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army since a cease-fire agreement collapsed in 2011.

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Ethnic Lisu protest killings by the Kachin Independence Army in Myitkyina, capital of northern Myanmar's Kachin state, May 22, 2017. RFA

Myanmar, May 28, 2017: Thousands of ethnic Lisu in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, protested on Monday against an ethnic armed group for violating human rights by indiscriminately arresting and killing civilians and extorting money from them.

The protesters also took issue with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) political group, for failing to apologize for killing the Lisu people, the protesters told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

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They demanded an apology from the KIA and pledges not to commit the same crimes in the future and to provide assistance to the families of those they killed.

Ethnic Lisu from the towns of Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Tanai, and Puta-O joined in the protest.

“They violate human rights, and they are unfair,” said Alay Phar Phar, a member of Lisu National Protest Committee. “They practice chauvinism when they deal with us.”

The KIA killed four Lisu people last year in the Sadon region of Kachin state as well as some this year, he said, adding that local residents have not yet been able to determine the number and identities of those who died.

RFA was unable to contact KIO leaders for comment.

The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group who live in northern Myanmar, southwestern China, and parts of Thailand and India. Many are Christians. An estimated 600,000 Lisu live in Myanmar.

Because they inhabit mountainous areas largely covered by dense forests, they must rely on raising livestock and hunting to make a living in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

Armed clashes in Kachin

The KIA has been engaged in fighting with the national army in Kachin state, with the latest clash occurring on May 19 in Hpakant township, according to a report by the online journal The Irrawaddy.

The ethnic armed group, which controls large swathes of northeastern Kachin state, has regularly engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army since a cease-fire agreement collapsed in 2011.

In November 2016, the KIA teamed up with three other ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—to form the Northern Alliance.

The alliance then launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in three townships in neighboring Shan state and along the105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China in retaliation for government army offensives against its soldiers.

The fighting resulted in heavy losses on both sides and displaced tens of thousands of civilians.

The protest by the Lisu in Kachin state comes as the Myanmar government gets ready to hold the second round of key peace talks known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference with various ethnic militias on May 24.

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The KIA is not a signatory to the government’s nationwide cease-fire agreement signed with eight ethnic armed groups in October 2015.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is spearheading the peace initiative, previously said all ethnic armed groups would be invited attend, but the KIA has suggested that it would not take part if it was invited only as an “observer” to the summit, The Irrawaddy said. (RFA)

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Growing Instability in Southern Chin State, People Flee Escalating Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine

The U.N. refugee agency says it cannot assess the scale of the current humanitarian situation in these volatile areas because it has little access to these and other regions in Myanmar.

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A Mro ethnic women with child displaced from the surge of fighting between ethnic armed rebel group of the Arakan Army and government troops take refuge at a compound of a Buddhist pagoda in Buthidaung township in the restive Rakhine state, Jan. 25, 2019. VOA

The U.N. refugee agency says it is worried by reports of people fleeing escalating violence in Myanmar’s southern Chin State and Rakhine State, adding to growing instability in these regions.

The U.N. refugee agency says it cannot assess the scale of the current humanitarian situation in these volatile areas because it has little access to these and other regions in Myanmar.

But the UNHCR says reports it has received of the deteriorating security situation in southern Chin State and Rakhine State are very worrying. It says it does not know how many people have fled their homes and have become internally displaced since violence flared up there in December.

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The U.N. refugee agency says it cannot assess the scale of the current humanitarian situation in these volatile areas because it has little access to these and other regions in Myanmar. Pixabay

Additionally, in Rakhine State, UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said a number of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh in search of asylum.

“We understand from some of the reports that some 200 people have sought shelter, have sought safety. This is reportedly in a very remote area where we do not really have access,” he said.

More than 720,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence in Myanmar. Because of previous refugee crises in Myanmar, Bangladesh currently is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees.

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The UNHCR praises the country’s generosity and appeals to the authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh. Pixabay

The UNHCR praises the country’s generosity and appeals to the authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.

Also Read: ‘It Has Been A Very Long Process, But Ultimately A Very Successful Process’: South Korea Agrees to Pay More for U.S. Troops

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a predominantly Buddhist country. It has a long history of tension with its ethnic minorities, much of it based on religion. Southern Chin State is the only State in Myanmar with a Christian majority. It also is the poorest and least developed region in the country.

The large Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State continues to suffer discrimination and repression from the majority Buddhist community. Though they have lived in Myanmar for generations, the Rohingya are denied citizenship and remain stateless. (VOA)