State Crimes Allegedly Committed in Myanmar against the Rohingyas,Kachins and Other GroupsUniversity of Malaya, Faculty of Law18-22 September 2017, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaJUDGMENT
I. GENERAL HISTORICAL AND JURIDICAL FRAMEWORK
I.1 The competence of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any state authority. It examines cases regarding violations of human rights and the rights of peoples. Promoted by the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, the PPT was founded in June 1979, in Bologna, Italy, by a broad spectrum of legal experts, writers and other cultural community leaders from 31 countries. The PPT is rooted in the historical experience of the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam (1966-67) and on dictatorships in Latin America (1974-1976). The importance and strength of decisions by the PPT rest on the moral weight of the causes and arguments to which they give credibility, as well as the integrity and capability to judge of the Tribunal members. While fully recognising the reference role of the institutions of the international community of states and the juridical instruments, the PPT assumed as its Statute the Universal Declaration of Peoples’ Rights (Algiers, 1976), which underlines its aim: to give visibility and legitimacy to the authority of peoples when states and the international bodies fail to protect their rights, due to geopolitical reasons or other motivations.
Complaints heard by the Tribunal are submitted by the victims, or by groups or individuals representing them. The PPT calls together all parties concerned and offers the defendants the possibility to make their own arguments heard. The panel of the judges is selected for each case, combining members who belong to a permanent list and individuals who are recognised for their competence and integrity. From June 1979 to the present, the PPT has held 43 sessions whose results and judgments are available at: www.permanentpeoplestribunal.org.
The permanent and increasing challenge of the original working hypothesis has been confirmed by the spectrum of cases which have requested the competence of the PPT as the instrument which could make visible and qualify the violations of their fundamental rights to self-determination and to life, in the absence of, or denial in, responses at the institutional, juridical and political level. In this sense, the verdicts and deliberations of the PPT represent a narrative of international law as seen from the side of peoples, when their status of victims is translated into that of the only legitimate subjects to whom the public and private powers are accountable, beyond their legal impunity.
For the purpose of this case on the violations of the rights of peoples of Myanmar, it is useful to refer specifically to the doctrine developed by the PPT in the deliberations where state crimes have been committed against individuals and groups of the same countries, transformed from citizens into enemies, and/or “other” and, as such, exposed in full impunity to processes of discrimination leading to a genocide, recognised only too late, or even never: Argentina and its desaparecidos, 1980; East Timor, lead case of the first neo-colonial genocide, 1981; Guatemala and its indigenous populations,
1983; the determinants and the responsibility for the Armenian genocide, 1984; the peoples of the ex- Yugoslavia, 1995; victims of Islamic fundamentalism of Algeria, 2004; the communities of Colombia,
2006-08. An even more specific reference must be made to the two sessions on the case of Eelam Tamils (Dublin, 2019; Bremen, 2013) which could be considered, from a methodological and doctrinal point of view, an integral part and foundation for this deliberation.
I.2 The general context
After World War II, Burma, later to be known as Myanmar, formerly governed as part of British India, was recognised as a nation state and granted independence in 1948 by the United Kingdom. Within its borders were a large number of ethnic and religious minorities dominated by the majority Bamar, or Burmese, mainly Buddhists, who had been the primary beneficiaries of colonial rule. From 1962, when a military coup brought a repressive regime to power, the minorities began to suffer increasing discrimination and loss of human rights, including citizenship in varying degrees. While the undemocratic nature and loss of human rights under the military junta was obvious to the international community, little action was taken to bring about a change. Much moral support was given to the oppositionists, in particular Aung San Suu Kyi, who was a political prisoner for nearly two decades.
The current situation of mass flight from the country by the Rohingya and increased human rights abuse against them and other non-Burman Buddhist minorities is not a new phenomenon. There have been similar significant, if smaller, episodes of mass flights in previous years, notably in 1978, 1992 and 2012. Nevertheless, the international community did little to avert a catastrophe although the signs were clearly there. It appears that placing an array of sanctions on the country, and supporting the National League for Democracy and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights struggle, was thought sufficient to bring about a significant change in Myanmar’s human rights record. Eventually it seemed a good result had been achieved as Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to Parliament in 2012, and made State Counsellor (effectively Prime Minister) in 2016, under
the new 2008 constitution. But that constitution essentially ensured real power remained with the military.
Despite the widely acclaimed “transition to democracy”, a visit by President Obama in 2012 and the lifting of sanctions, the human rights situation did not improve and was observed by many to be getting worse. In response, no effective action was taken by the United Nations (nor by other international institutions such as ASEAN), despite numerous warnings, e.g. from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (four reports from 2014-2016 and another in March 2017). To what extent the current anti-Muslim and anti-terrorism beliefs that have gained strength since 9/11 have ensured sympathy for the Myanmar government and forestalled a unity of commitment to act on behalf of the people of Myanmar is not clear. It may well be that such beliefs, along with falling support in the country due to economic failures, led the government to embark on an escalation of its repression and human rights abuses.
In these circumstances, the PPT moved to inquire into the situation consistent with its view that genocide prevention is also a matter for the peoples of the world to be aware of and thence to demand action. That it is now known that a Report by a UN commissioned expert who said the situation in Myanmar demanded urgent action to prevent a catastrophe was ignored and even suppressed, makes clear that peoples’ organisations such as the PPT, independent from states and from INGOs, have an important role to play in bringing a judicial spotlight to bear, albeit without power of enforcement, standing alongside the victims and letting their voices be heard in the unfulfilled task of preventing such future human tragedies so that we can finally say with confidence: Never again.
I.3 The specificity and the term of reference of this session
The attention of the PPT for the situation of peoples of Myanmar dates back to 2013, at a time when Myanmar’s (already ongoing) violations were hardly considered, and even less well known on the world stage. This was the hidden face of a state seen as undergoing a transformation from military to democratic control, with a woman icon of peace at the helm portrayed as an indisputable guarantee for a future in which all the citizens of the country could be recognised as inviolable subjects of their rights to a life in dignity.A clear alarm was sounded of an impending genocide at a number
of events leading up to this session,including a London conference at which the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights,
Tomás Ojéa Quintana stated “There are elements of genocide in Rakhine with respect to Rohingya”9 . This was followed by the Opening Session of the PPT on Myanmar State Crimes against Rohingya, Kachin and Other Groups, convened in London (Queen Mary University, 6-7 March 2017)10. The reports, the Witness testimonies and in particular the closing remarks of that session, must be considered and referred to as an integral part of this Judgment. Nevertheless, the findings of the PPT, as well as of a number of other observers from various UN bodies, national and international NGOs and research teams11 did not manage to draw the concerted attention of the international community nor of wider public opinion, let alone any concrete preventive action.
The preparatory phase for this session was transformed into one of urgency due to the rapidly – even if not unexpectedly – evolving situation with the dramatic “clearance” incidents of October 2016 in Rakhine state, even more so because of the absolute invisibility to the world of what had already been characterised by the PPT and others as a drastic case requiring immediate attention.
Only on the eve of this session, the suffering of the Rohingya peoples finally and belatedly seized world attention, as the increasingly perilous situation of the Rohingya burst into press coverage of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing a large-scale military build-up followed by massive attacks launched by the Myanmar and police military forces as well as paramilitary and civilians, purported to be in response to a number of coordinated assaults on Myanmar border posts on 25 August 2017. As a result, within the three weeks leading up to this session, nearly half a million people crossed the border from western Myanmar into Bangladesh, telling harrowing stories of the carnage they left behind as they crammed into open fishing boats or trudged along muddy paths carrying babies and the elderly and bundles of meagre possessions, seeing plumes of smoke soar into the air as their homes and villages were burnt to the ground.
Many of these refugees arrived in Bangladesh presenting serious injury from these burnings, from machete, knife and gunshot wounds, from rape and other sexual assault as well as from land mines apparently laid even during the immediate past along the paths to the border. Of particular concern
London Conference on Decades of State-Sponsored Destruction of Myanmar’s Rohingya, London School of Economics, 28 April 2014.
Opening Session of the PPT on Myanmar State Crimes against Rohingya, Kachin and Other Groups, convened in London (Queen Mary University, 6-7 March 2017). See
https://tribunalonmyanmar.org/?s=london+session and, for the closing remarks of the panel of the
For the list of some of the most notable reports, as presented by the Prosecution to this full session, see Annex was the fact that more than half of these refugees were children12, many separated from their families, a large number of whom reported having seen their parents and siblings killed before their eyes. The consensus of many sources on the humanitarian crisis of the population of Rakhine state, both within their land and in their search for refuge, could not have been clearer, and it was openly and repeatedly underlined even by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his official letter to the UN Security Council on 13 September, despite the constant denial of the civil and military authorities of Myanmar.
As clearly set out in the indictment, which synthesised the available overwhelming written, visual, factual and analytical documentation, together with requests from the three victim groups for the convening of a full PPT session, our task went beyond giving more visibility to what already known, to include the following, according to the terms of reference established in the London session: a) to broaden the focus from the most tragically and acutely affected population of the Rohingyas to the general policy of the Myanmar state on Kachins and other ethnic, national and religious groups;
b) to document and qualify the historical and structural roots and causes of the events, to avoid considering them as occasional incidents and strictly internal affairs of a still young and “fragile democracy”, with no political, strategic, economic interactions with and impact on regional and global actors and interests;
c) to qualify juridically the severity and the responsibility of the crimes not only in view of the most pertinent criminal qualification, but to stress and justify with the greatest emphasis the absolute priority for concrete responses to the urgency of the needs of the affected population. This dramatic exodus of Rohingya widened the matters to be considered by the Tribunal to include the enormous challenge to Bangladesh in receiving these refugees, in addition to the estimated 300,000 Rohingya refugees still in Bangladesh as a result of the previous waves of violence. While the Bangladesh government initially hesitated to open the border, and reportedly even forcibly returned some people to Myanmar, this policy changed in the face of the undeniable humanitarian crisis and need to assist hundreds of thousands of desperate people, as expressed by the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, when she visited Kutupalong camp on 12 September.
12 Children were estimated by the International Organization on Migration (IOM) to comprise 58% of the 507,000 newly arrived re
fugees, “Situation Report: Rohingya Crisis”, Cox’s Bazar: Inter Sector Coordination Group, 1 Oct 2017.
The affected people are not merely victims waiting for humanitarian responses – certainly essential, though delayed and partial. They are, and must be considered first and foremost, the central subjects of rights, whose recognition and restitution should be the first, structural implication of a judgment based on the inviolable legitimacy of individual and peoples’ rights.
It is hoped that the participation of the victims themselves in this Tribunal is in a small way restitutive such that they could reconstruct their lives once again.
II. THE PROCEDURE FOR THIS SESSION OF THE PPT
II.1 The Panel of Judges
The Panel of Judges was composed of:
Daniel Feierstein (Argentina), who chaired the panel Zulaiha Ismail (Malaysia)
Helen Jarvis (Cambodia-Australia)
Gill H. Boehringer (Australia)
Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (Indonesia)
Shadi Sadr (Iran)
Nello Rossi (Italy)
Two of the judges appointed to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal were not able to attend: Denis Halliday (Ireland), for severe and acute health reasons, and Bellur Narayanaswamy Srikrishna (India), because a visa was unable to be arranged in time. For the professional profiles of the components of the panel, see the Annex 1.
Gianni Tognoni and Simona Fraudatario assured the consistency of the procedures, the overall coordination of the session and the material editing of this text.
II.2 The Prosecution
The Indictment was drawn up and presented to the Tribunal by the Prosecution led by Ms Doreen Chen, and consisting of a team of lawyers from the Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy (Centhra) led by Mr Azril Mohd. Amin and including Dir Kheizwan Kamaruddin, Fahmi Abd. Moin, Luqman Mazlan, Dr Mohd Afandi Salleh, Rafna Farin Abdul B. Ra’far and Dato Rosal Azimin Ahmad, as well as Dr Thomas McManus from the School of Law, Queen Mary University, London (Annexe 2).
III.3 The right to defence
In strict compliance with its Statutes, all the steps and official documents related to the case of this session – from the results of the London Opening Session, to the first formal convocation of the Kuala
Lumpur Session to the official program and the Indictment – were transmitted: a) to the representatives of the Myanmar civil and military authorities; b) to directly relevant international agencies and governing bodies as shown below.
Myanmar authorities notified and invited to present a defence:
• Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander in Chief, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces), Naypyidaw
• Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Myanmar State Counsellor
• Vice President Myint Swe, Chair of the Myanmar Presidential Investigation Commission on Rakhine, Former Lt-General and former Chief of Military Intelligence
• General Myat Tun Oo, Chief of Military Affairs and Security Office of the Commander in Chief
• Win Mra, Chair of the Myanmar Human Rights Commission
UN, EU and other authorities invited to participate:
• António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
• Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
• Professor Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar • Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
• Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
• Adama Dieng, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide • Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy /Vice-President of the European Commission
• Kofi Annan, Chair, Rakhine Commission
• Kazi Reazul Hoque, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh. While no answer was received from the Myanmar representatives, a formal acknowledgment of the invitation was given by a number of the above representatives of international agencies, with a request to be kept informed of the results of the session, and Mr Kazi Reazul Hoque directly addressed the Tribunal regarding the impact of the impact of Rohingya refugees on Bangladesh.
The right to defence, which is central in the Statutes of the Tribunal and has been a carefully observed practice throughout all its proceedings, was communicated to the concerned parties in this case also, in
due time. As no answer was received, at the beginning of each of the three days of public audience, the Chairperson of the Panel of Judges asked if any representative of the Myanmar Government was present in the room, and no response was received.
According to the Statutes, due to the absence of any response from the authorities, the PPT procedure of an ex officio defence was activated, and the resulting text was read publicly by the representative of the Secretariat of the PPT. The full text of the speech given by the State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, on 19 September 2017 in an address to the assembled diplomatic corps in Naypyidaw, which had already been listened to collectively by the Panel of Judges, and which was formally and partially replayed in front of the audience, was assumed to be the most complete and updated expression of the position of the Myanmar authorities. Because of its relevance, it is considered as an integral part of this deliberation (Annex 3)
II.4. The proceedings
The public hearings of the PPT took place in the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Videos of the hearings together with press coverage and some of the supporting testimony and evidence can be found on the web site www.tribunalonmyanmar.org .The program, together with essential information on the Prosecution and Experts who gave testimonies are provided in Annex 4
II.5 Security measures
The Panel of Judges assured in camera hearings for those witnesses for whom it was determined desirable to provide a close protection of their identity.
III. PRESENTATION OF THE FACTS
III.1. Serious violations of human rights and allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Kachin people
“We are still birds in a cage”... in this way, the first Kachin witness before the Peoples’ Tribunal on Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur (Mr Jimmy Hpang) summarised the condition of his people after reading a
long list of specific cases of torture and execution suffered since the 2011 breakdown of the 17-year- long ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese Army.
Since achieving independence from the UK on 4 January 1948, the state of Myanmar has been at almost ceaseless war with the approximately 40% of its 55 million people who make up the country’s 135 recognised ethnic groups as well as minority religions and other unrecognised ethnic groups. Kachin State, the most northerly state of the country in the foothills of the Himalayas bordering China and India, “is one of the six, later to become seven, ethnic nationality states that were created when Burma became independent in 1948.”13 The 1947 Constitution of the Union of Burma states: “territories that were heretofore known as the Myitkyina and Bhamo Districts shall form a constituent unit of the Union of Burma and be hereafter known as “the Kachin State.”14 In the 2014 census the state’s population was reported as being 1.689 million or 3.3% of the total. 15
The Kachin people in Myanmar, who consist of six major subgroups, refer to themselves collectively as Jinghpaw Wunpawng. They number between 1 and 1.5 million and are largely resident in Kachin State but also form a substantial part of the population of the northern section of Shan State. Kachin populations also exist across the borders from Kachin State in China and India. Under British colonial rule, many of these previously animist people became Christian, now predominantly Baptist.16
13 Mandy Sadan, “History and Ethnicity in Burma: Cultural Contexts of the Ethnic Category 'Kachin' in the Colonial and Post-Colonial State, 1824-2004”, PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2004, p. 18.
14Article 6 The Constitution of the Union of Burma, 24 September 1947 (http://burmalibrary.org/docs3/CONSTTTN.47)
15 2014 Myanmar population and housing census. [Yangon]: Ministry of Information, 2014. 16 ”Mandy Sadan, Testimony given at the London opening session of the Tribunal; see also her Being and Becoming Kachin: histories beyond the state in the borderlands of Burma. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
War and increasing marginalisation have been the dominant features of life for the Kachin people since at least the early 1960s. The KIA was established in 1961, and the 1962 military coup by General Ne Win ushered in more than three decades of war, during which many previously Kachin towns and villages were destroyed and thousands of people were killed. One disturbing feature of this armed conflict is the extent to which child soldiers have been used along with forcible recruitment: “Burma is believed to have more child soldiers than any other country in the world. The overwhelming majority of Burma’s child soldiers are found in Burma’s national army, the Tatmadaw Kyi, which forcibly recruits children as young as eleven. ... Children are also present in Burma’s myriad opposition groups, although in far smaller numbers. Some children join opposition groups to avenge past abuses by Burmese forces against members of their families or community, while others are forcibly conscripted. Many participate in armed conflict, sometimes with little or no training”.17
Under the national policy of Burmanisation and substantial inwards migration that took place during that period of warfare, the Kachin progressively lost many of their customs and traditions, including competence in the six Kachin languages which were, since colonial times at least, written in Roman rather than Burmese script.
The ceasefire from 24 February 1994 until 9 June 2011 brought an end to intense fighting, but led paradoxically to an ever increasing militarisation of the region with the stationing of many Burmese/Myanmar central army battalions. The introduction of an oppressive developmental model involving massive alienation of traditional lands and natural resources (notably their precious jade), accompanied by increasing dispersal and marginalisation of the Kachin through significant urban immigration of lowland Burmese people, including replacing many Kachin animist or Christian sacred places with Buddhist shrines or pagodas, generated demoralisation and a debilitating drug scourge.18 This shift is reflected in the findings of the Myanmar 2014 census that 64% of the population in Kachin state reported as Buddhist, and just 34% Christian.
17 “My gun was as tall as me”: child soldiers in Burma. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002, p.2. See also Kai Chen, Comparative study of child soldiering on Myanmar-China border: evolutions, challenges and countermeasures. Singapore : Springer, 2014; and A Dangerous Refuge: Ongoing child recruitment by the Kachin Independence Army, London : Child Soldiers International, 2015).
18 War and peace in the borderlands of Myanmar: the Kachin ceasefire 1995-2011, edited by Mandy Sadan. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2016. On the economic transformation, see especially, Chapter 5, Kevin Woods, “The commercialisation of counterinsurgency: battlefield enemies, business bedfellows in Kachin State” and his article “Ceasefire capitalism: military–private partnerships, resource concessions and military–state building in the Burma–China borderlands”, Journal of Peasant Studies, 38:4, 2011, p.747-770.
The KIA refused to transform into a Border Guard Force (BGF) under direct control of the central Myanmar army, as stipulated in the 2008 Constitution. The KIO rejected such a process, demanding a comprehensive political dialogue prior to any disarmament or demobilisation, and this was used as the grounds for large-scale military assaults by the Myanmar Army. Since fighting resumed, it is estimated that 10% of the population has been displaced, with at least 120,000 people now in IDP camps (at least two-thirds are under KIO control and have faced numerous restrictions and denials of humanitarian aid).
Testimony and evidence
Written and oral testimony was presented to the Opening Session of the Tribunal by the Kachin Women’s Organisation (KWO). This related a number of incidents, including the aerial bombardment followed by shelling of Laiza (the de facto capital of the KIO-controlled zone of Kachin State) on 14 January 2013, killing three civilians and injuring others, as well as an attack on the same day on Kahtan village far away from any conflict zone; the shooting of 9th grade school pupil Ja Seng Ing in 2012 and the subsequent arrest and detention of her father when he tried to pursue the case of her death; the shooting of civilians sheltering in a church and seizure and enforced disappearance of Deacon Lum Hkwang in 2011; air and artillery attacks on many villages and churches and on three IDP camps near Lai Hpawng in 2016; rape, murder, looting, and blocking of humanitarian assistance to IDP camps.
The KWO’s written report described destruction of indigenous cultural and religious sites in addition to Christian churches:
“In northern Kachin State, the Tatmadaw [Myanmar/Burmese military] has also shown a total disregard for Kachin cultural heritage in Putao. In 2014, at a popular site at Machyang Baw known as the ‘rock dragon’ and regarded as sacred in the folklore of spirit-worshipping Kachin, a local army commander commissioned construction work to attach a painted dragon head to the natural rock formation and built a pagoda at the top of the site against the wishes of local people. A similar incident took place the following year when a pagoda was constructed at National Jawng, an island in the Mali Hka River, famous in Kachin cultural heritage as the gathering place of ancestral spirits.”20
Protection Sector Kachin, “Humanitarian Access in Kachin State, Protection Sector (PWG – GBV SS – CP SS) Update Note,” November 2016. 20 War crimes and crimes against humanity: voices from the Kachin people of northern Burma. London: KWO, 2017, p. 7.
The Kuala Lumpur session likewise received both written and oral testimony from further witnesses, including from the Kachin National Organisation (KNO) and the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT).
Mr Jimmy Hpang and his colleague of the Kachin National Organisation (KNO) presented details and supporting photographs of 20 cases of alleged war crimes of “Shelling, Killing and Torturing and arbitrary arrest”, and ten cases of “Burning Houses, ransacking and blocking aids for IDPs”. Ms Nang Htoi Rawng from the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) presented evidence on widespread sexual violence, including a detailed report on the rape and murder of two volunteer teachers in Kawng Kha village in northern Shan State on 20 January 2015 (see further below). 21
Original video footage, including a detailed analysis of a military attack by Myanmar Army battalions 74 and 276 on Nam Lim Pa village, Shwigu District, Kachin State, from 8 to 11 October 2011, and the attack on Laiza on 14 January 2013 mentioned above, screened and was introduced as supporting evidence to his Expert testimony by Mr Ryan Roco.
In addition, a number of witnesses testified in camera of crimes that they had suffered personally and who had felt compelled to leave their homeland in fear for their lives, following forced labour serving as porters for the Myanmar Army, sexual violence, beatings, torture, execution or jailing and enforced disappearance of friends and relatives and/or military attack on their villages.
The direct testimony presented to the Tribunal corroborated a wealth of information given in a number of substantial written reports by various human rights organisations and researchers that were also submitted to the Tribunal by the Prosecution regarding, inter alia, the following acts against the Kachin people:
One Witness [name withheld] described the arbitrary arrest of her younger brother alleged to be a KIA spy. After the family was unable to raise the demanded payment of 300,000 kyat to secure his release, he was sent to trial and sentenced to 10 years’ detention. The Witness herself was then closely followed and pressed to become involved in collection of drug money on behalf of soldiers or face a similar allegation of KIA involvement. In fear of a fate similar to her brother she decided to flee Myanmar and is now resident in Malaysia.
21 Justice delayed, justice denied: seeking truth about sexual violence and war crime case in Burma, with a special focus on the Kawng Kha case, in Kachin Land. Legal Aid Network and KWAT, January 2016.
The acts detailed in her testimony were echoed by others, and support documentation in a special dossier of 36 cases brought under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act against people accused of contact with the Kachin Independence Army researched and compiled in 2012 by independent human rights defenders in Burma.
One Witness [name withheld] told the Tribunal that she had five times been pressed into serving as a porter for Myanmar military units. This experience was recounted by a number of other witnesses, including one who reported in camera that at 15 years of age on 10 November 2015 he was seized at night and taken from his family tent in their field. Together with two other young men, he was forced to carry a heavy basket of arms and ammunition, fed only scraps of food and forced to drink from a stream which soldiers upstream had used for bathing and as a toilet. He managed to escape during a fire fight and fled to Malaysia.