A letter from Kachin state in Myanmar
Lord, have mercy on us in the civil war here in the Kachin State of the Union of Myanmar. Our lives stopped on June 3, 2011, when government forces and the Kachin Independent Army began shooting at each other. It has meant more than 100,000 refugees, hunger, epidemics, destroyed farmland, fear and separated families.
Kachin people are being killed by the army of the ruling junta, but the military says nothing. Young girls are being raped and killed by the government soldiers. Young boys are arrested by the police. The police set traps for them. They tell them they are in the streets after curfew, but no curfew has ever been announced.
We don’t know when the fighting will stop. The Kachin Independent Army and the government forces are negotiating, but their discussions keep failing and the fighting goes on. We are just praying, but we do not know who will win. As an ethnic minority, we are an isolated and alienated people. In today’s world, where systems of technology, human rights, justice, personal freedom and transparency are being woven into societies all over the world, we are being alienated from own land, our own sources of income and our very right to exist.
This process began with the very first prime minister of Burma, Thakin Nu, in 1948. He dropped the name Thakin saying that in a Burmaised land it was not necessary. “Just call me U (Mr.) Nu,” he said. He was prime minister on and off right up to 1962 and we ethnic peoples did not exist in his Burmaisation vision.
As Kachins, we have never betrayed our country. As citizens, we have faithfully served this nation since it became independent from Britain. But successive governments have systematically and violently tried to extinguish the life of our very souls. We understand that if we are alienated from everything we hold near and dear, everything that gives us hope and the spark of imagination and life, we will die. To not be able to live freely is the same as death; everything is meaningless.
Today, our lives, our land, our Christian religion, our history, our traditions, our race, ethnicity and livelihood are horribly alienated by the military junta carrying out of its own policy of the Burmaisation of this land.
When our rights are alienated, it means that truth, democracy and the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights are dead.
Even God, our creator, is alienated and pushed beyond our grasp.
Lord, have mercy on us.
From a friend of Columban Fr. Jim Mulroney