Beijing, Aug 24: China has reportedly returned several ethnic Kachins who had fled Myanmar owing to the country's civil war, hence making them vulnerable to armed abuse by the Myanmar Army, a human rights body said on Friday.
About 10,000 Kachins sought refuge in Yunnan, the southwestern Chinese province bordering Myanmar's northernmost state of Kachin, after the conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar government intensified last year following a 17-year truce.
According to diplomats, the conflict in Kachin is a big challenge to Myanmar's new civilian government's reform measures. The country's government has engaged itself with the KIA and several other ethnic minorities which have resorted to rebellion, in a bid to stop the old conflicts.
The Chinese authorities had pushed back at least 1,000 Kachin refugees in mid-August and plan to deport another 4,000 in the near future, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said. Bill Frelick, an official of Human Rights Watch accused China of violating international legal obligations by returning the refugees to an active conflict zone. He said Beijing should change its policy and provide temporary shelter to the refugees from Myanmar.
Neither the Chinese foreign officials nor the government at Yunnan were available for any comment. In June, Beijing had denied similar accusations brought by the Human Rights Watch, saying it had forced back Kachins into Myanmar. According to the Chinese authorities, these people were not refugees.
The human rights body said while China had failed to give temporary protection or aid to the refugees, it denied UN and international humanitarian agencies from reaching them.
China has reportedly asked the Myanmar authorities to ensure stability at the country's vast border with former.
(With agency inputs)