Refugees Forced Back to Myanmar ; Ethnic Kachin Who Fled Civil War Being Evicted from Camps in China

By Wong, Edward | International Herald Tribune, August 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Refugees Forced Back to Myanmar ; Ethnic Kachin Who Fled Civil War Being Evicted from Camps in China


Wong, Edward, International Herald Tribune


Thousands of ethnic Kachin refugees from a renewed civil war in northern Myanmar are being forced out of refugee camps in southwestern China and sent back into the conflict zone.

The authorities in southwestern China are forcibly evicting thousands of encamped ethnic Kachin refugees who fled a renewed civil war in neighboring Myanmar, pushing them back into the conflict zone in northern Myanmar, according to foreign human rights researchers, political analysts and two people in the Myanmar state of Kachin.

The forced repatriation appeared to be happening in large waves this past week. The refugees fled to China after a 17-year cease- fire agreement between the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar government broke down in June 2011. The civil war with the Kachin is one of many occurring in Myanmar, formerly Burma, and the renewal of the Kachin conflict has cast doubts on the sincerity or ability of President Thein Sein to carry out deep political reforms.

A researcher for Human Rights Watch said the repatriations appeared to have begun en masse on Tuesday. He estimated that 1,000 refugees had returned to Kachin State and that an additional 4,000 were projected to return by the end of the week.

In June, Human Rights Watch reported that 7,000 to 10,000 Kachin refugees were in China and subjected to squalid conditions and harsh treatment by officials. It also said there had been some instances of forced repatriation by Chinese officials, though apparently not as systematic or widespread as now.

"All the refugees in China now are being pushed back," said a resident of Laiza, the capital of the rebel-held part of Kachin State. "Many of them are back already." On Wednesday, he added, Chinese border guards expelled a group of refugees from an area called Nong Tau and destroyed refugee huts even before the refugees had left the site.

Ryan Roco, a human rights researcher who has documented the plight of the war's displaced, said he had learned that at least 4,200 Kachin were being forced out of six camps in Yunnan Province, China, and back into Myanmar. …

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