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Myanmar Ethnic Clashes Put Spotlight on China

Thursday, July 7, 2011

MAE SOT, Thailand -- On June 9, deadly clashes broke out in northern Myanmar between the country's army and the ethnic minority Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The fighting reportedly erupted after Myanmar's military moved to secure the Tarpein Hydropower Project, a Chinese-built dam that came online in January. The plant, which sits on a tributary of the Irrawaddy River close to rebel-held areas, has since suspended its operations, and the clashes have spread to surrounding regions, pushing Myanmar's strategic borderlands to the brink of civil war.

Rights activists say the Myanmar army's offensive has brought a range of rights abuses, from the press-ganging of civilians into work as military porters to the abuse of women and young girls. More than 10,000 civilians have since sought refuge along the Myanmar-China border as leaders from both sides begin tentative cease-fire talks. ...

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