Rights group accuses Burma of rape, torture | News | DW | 20.03.2012
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Rights group accuses Burma of rape, torture

Human Rights Watch has accused Burma's security forces of raping and torturing people during an offensive in the country's north. Both the army and rebels have been using landmines and child soldiers, the group said.

The human rights organization said in a report published Tuesday about fighting between the army and ethnic Kachin rebels in the country's north that soldiers had attacked and razed villages and raped and tortured people in interrogations. The army and the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had laid landmines and forced children as young as 14 as to work as soldiers, HRW said.

At least 75,000 Kachin people have fled from the fighting since June, 45,000 of whom are living in camps along the border to China in territory controlled by the KIA. The refugees were in desperate need of basic provisions, but the government was blocking aid to them, the group said.

"Both the army and Kachin rebels need to act to prevent a bad situation for civilians from getting even worse," said Elaine Pearson, HRW's deputy Asia director.

The group said that the UN had in December been given access to the region, but aid workers were only allowed in once and had been unable to visit all of the refugees at the time.

Fighting between the government and the KIA resumed near a dam being built to provide electricity to China in June last year in Kachin state, where a ceasefire had previously been in place for 17 years.

Last year the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein replaced Burma's military junta and introduced numerous reforms. Those reforms were not having an effect across the country, HRW said.

"There's still a long way to go before the people of Burma, particularly those in conflict areas, benefit from recent promises of reform," Pearson said. "The international community should not become complacent about the serious human rights violations still plaguing Burma."

ncy/mz (AFP, dapd, dpa)