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Kachin activists in northern Thailand rallied in front of the US and Chinese consulates in Chiang Mai calling for an end to civil war in Kachin state on Friday morning.
The protestors waved flags and chanted asking for the foreign countries to push the Burmese government to end the fighting in northern Burma and to allow aid groups access to refugees displaced by the fighting.
“Allow the UNHCR access to the refugees,” said Hsai Zin of Kachin Youth Development Organisation, who joined the rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Chiang Mai this morning.
“[We call on] China to pressure Burma to step up reforms in the country.”
She said officials at the Chinese consulate came out to listen to the protesters’ demands and accepted their letter.
The statement urged the Chinese government to allow Kachin refugees fleeing violence to cross over into China and to pressure the Burmese leadership to begin a nationwide political dialogue with the country’s ethnic minorities.
“It is clear that the ‘democratic reform programme’ of President Thein Sein’s government is not aimed at granting equal rights to Kachin and other ethnic nationalities, but rather at annihilating them,” read the statement.
The protesters also rallied in front of the US consulate and asked the American government to come to the aid of the Kachin people like they did when fighting against the Japanese during World War II in northern Burma.
“In the Second World War, we, the Kachin, fought alongside the US, with the 101st [Airborne Division in the US Army] against the Japanese. We want them to be with us in our time of need; when we are in struggle. The US and the Chinese governments have a very crucial role for us,” said Hsai Zin.
The protest comes after the US embassy in Rangoon published a statement yesterday condemning the ongoing fighting that erupted after a ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army and the government collapsed a year and a half ago.
“The United States strongly opposes the ongoing fighting, which has resulted in civilian casualties and undermined efforts to advance national reconciliation,” read the statement. “The United States is also deeply concerned about the safety of civilians in the area and continues to urge the Burmese Government to allow unhindered access to those in need of assistance.”
The protest was joined by more than 100 demonstrators, which included exiled Kachin and Burmese activists along with migrant workers and Thai nationals.