A Sky News investigation has uncovered evidence that the Burmese military is targeting other ethnic minorities.
The investigation, which involved travelling to remote parts of Myanmar, follows months of persecution against Rohingya Muslims by the country’s military.
More than 700,000 have been forced to flee to Bangladesh in what the United Nations called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Now another ethnic group – the mainly Christian Kachin people – believe they are being increasingly targeted because the Myanmar military’s persecution of the Rohingya went unpunished.
The attacks by the military are increasing in intensity and severity.
Kachin rebels, who mostly live in the northern mountainous area of Myanmar bordered by China and India, say one in eight of their population has been displaced.
The area which they call Kachin state is cut off by borders and Myanmar troops.
Authorities in Myanmar have been denying journalists, aid agencies, international observers, foreign diplomats and politicians access to the state.
Sky cameraman and producer Neville Lazarus and myself managed to reach this remote region with the help of a Kachin network that stretches from Myanmar to Europe.
What we found in this forgotten part of the world was worrying evidence of a second genocidal campaign – at least that’s certainly what the Kachin people believe.
They have been fighting for self-determination since Burma (later renamed Myanmar, but the Kachin people are reluctant to recognise this) gained independence from the British in 1948.
Over the decades they have formed an effective army, known as the the Kachin Independent Army (KIA), and an administrative body called the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).
Thousands have died in bombings and attacks against them carried out by the Myanmar military – and these attacks have increased substantially since January after the same forces had spent months driving the Rohingya out from the west of the country.
The national forces have been using helicopters and heavy artillery to bomb Kachin rebel positions.
Thousands of civilians have been stranded in the thick jungle and fled several times to escape the attacks.
We spoke to many Kachin civilians who had moved multiple times to try to reach safety, some on the backs of elephants.
A number spoke of attacks in or near civilians who had taken shelter in the camps for displaced people dotted across the region.
Lashi Ókawn Ja, a mother of four now living in one of the dozens of camps in the north of Myanmar, told Sky News: “I am convinced the Burmese government is trying to ethnically cleanse the Kachin people.
“Whenever they see Kachin people they try to kill us and they rape the women, even the women who are pregnant.”
The vice president of the Kachin Independence Council (KIC), General Sumlut Gunmaw, also believes Myanmar’s authorities want to crush them.
“Maybe their actions against us are not so sudden as their violence against the Rohingya, but their intentions are just the same. They want to eliminate us,” he said.
The attacks against the Kachin are random and indiscriminate.
They are mostly done from the air or by using artillery.
The Myanmar military has targeted some of the many amber and jade mines in the area, which serve as a valuable source of income for the Kachin people.
These mines have funded their rebellion and enabled them to buy weapons by trading with their foreign neighbours.
The vice president said he had handed over several documents detailing the violence and the repeated attacks against Kachin civilians to British and UN diplomats but the allegations of war crimes had been ignored.
From – SkyNews