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New Threats from the Air: Human Rights Violations by SAC Forces in Kachin and Northern Shan State, November 2021 to April 2022

June 1st, 2022  •  Author:   Kachin Women’s Association Thailand  •  3 minute read
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This report documents ongoing human rights violations, including sexual violence, by forces of the State Administration Council (SAC) regime in Kachin State and northern Shan State between November 2021 and April 2022. Detailed maps reveal not only a continuing pattern of indiscriminate shooting and shelling into civilian areas, but a new and deadly trend of airstrikes on populated villages, constituting further evidence of war crimes by the regime.

The air attacks against civilians appear to be direct retaliation for conflict losses in strategically important areas: along the Irrawaddy river supply route into Kachin State; on the main road link to Putao in northern Kachin State; and on the main road leading east from the Hpakant jade mining area. Five airstrikes in these areas killed two villagers and injured thirteen, including six children.

On the ground, SAC troops from the notorious assault divisions ID 33, ID 88 and ID 99, have continued to fire artillery shells directly into civilian areas, including towns. Thirteen shelling incidents during the past six months killed eight villagers and injured twenty, including six children. The shelling occurred not only during fighting, but also after clashes had ended. On February 17, ID 99 troops fired shells directly into a village near Mong Yaw, east of Lashio town, killing three women and a girl, and injuring four other displaced villages who had just returned home after fleeing fighting four days earlier.

The report documents thirteen incidents of indiscriminate shooting by SAC troops, killing eleven civilians and injuring seven. All were simply going about their daily lives: farming, trading or staying in their homes, including a seven-year-old boy killed in his bed in Myitkyina on February 1, when troops shot randomly into civilian houses following a bomb explosion in the town

Twenty-three people have been arbitrarily arrested, mostly on accusations of links to resistance groups. Of these, seven are known to have been severely tortured, included two men and a woman arrested from their homes near Myitkyina on November 28 and taken to the IB 37 base, where they were beaten with guns and sticks to make them confess to being members of PDF or KIA.

There have also been four incidents of regime troops arresting villagers, including women, and forcing them to walk between them as human shields in Momauk, Hpakant and Namtu.

In April, KWAT documented a rape attempt by a SAC soldier in Kutkai, only a few kilometers from where a SAC soldier from the same battalion raped a 62-year-old woman in November 2021. This shows clearly that SAC troops remain confident of impunity for sexual violence.

The fighting and SAC abuses have caused new displacement of over 5,700 villagers in Kachin State and Muse, Lashio and Namtu townships of northern Shan State. Where possible, IDPs have tried to return home after fighting has died down, but remain displaced in some locations, mainly around Mong Ko, due to ongoing clashes.
KWAT reiterates our calls for increased diplomatic and economic pressure on the military regime to end their atrocities, and enable the transfer of power to a democratically elected government under a new federal constitution.

Download full report in English I Burmese.