We are deeply concerned about the escalation in attacks by military forces and armed groups in Kachin and northern Shan States in Myanmar. Some 7,400 people have been internally displaced in Kachin State since early April, adding to the 100,000 already displaced. About 2,000 of these civilians spent about four weeks trapped in the jungle after fleeing the fighting in the conflict zone of Awng Lat, but this weekend, they were reportedly relocated to other towns in Kachin State. Many more remain trapped in areas of active fighting, with extremely difficult escape routes through mountains and forests, and in need of humanitarian support.
In Shan State, on Saturday, at least 14 civilians were reportedly killed and at least 20 others injured in attacks by armed groups, with the military mounting an offensive in response. There are also reports that the military, known as the Tatmadaw, has used heavy weaponry an aerial bombing in the region. More than 600 people have been displaced in Namtu Township in northern Shan.
We urge all sides to exercise restraint and to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law, ensuring the protection of civilians at all times. The protracted conflict in Kachin and northern Shan States has already caused immense suffering, and we urge all sides to work to resolve the situation through a genuine, meaningful dialogue.
We call on the Government to ensure that those who have been displaced or remain in conflict-affected areas have access to humanitarian aid.
We are also concerned about the reported arrests Saturday of those demonstrators in Yangon who were peacefully calling for an end to hostilities in Kachin State. We call on the authorities in Myanmar to respect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.