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Kachin men tortured by Myanmar army, says Quintana


The UN has raised concerns of continuing human rights abuses in Kachin State following a visit by the Special Rapporteur for Rights on February 15.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, talks to journalists during a press conference at Yangon International Airport on February 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO
Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, talks to journalists during a press conference at Yangon International Airport on February 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO
To conclude his five-day visit to the country, Tomás Ojea Quintana visited relief camps and met with the Kachin State Chief Minister, La John Ngan Hsai.

According to the Bangkok Post, following a visit to a prison in Myitkyina, the state capital, Quintana said he was “concerned about the ongoing practice of arbitrary arrest and torture during interrogation by the military of Kachin men” accused of belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Meanwhile, on February 17, UN and INGO humanitarian staff led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ashok Nigam left for Hpakant in Kachin State to assess the situation in 41 camps hosting some 5,000 people. The group carried with them food, including rice, pulses, oil and salt, as well as family kits including tarpaulins, kitchen sets, blankets, mosquito nets, basic medical supplies and water purification materials, said a UN statement.

The group was headed to camps for people sheltering in Hpakant who have been displaced by a conflict between government forces and the KIA which has raged in the region since June 2011.

Peace talks are expected to resume between the KIA and the Myanmar government before the end of the month.

The announcement of these latest peace talks came following a Chinese-brokered preliminary meeting between both sides on February 4 in Ruili, southern China.

“Today [February 4], we did not discuss much,” Swong Lut Gum told Mizzima at the time. “We told the government delegation that we would need to confer again with the United Nationalities Federation Council. We agreed to defuse military tensions. This is the first step in preparing for peace talks.”

Despite promises by the Myanmar government to allow humanitarian aid into conflict areas, Quintana said access remained a “challenge”.
 
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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