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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2730

Burma:Will government end war against KIO?

By - Zin Linn

The armed conflicts in Burma/Myanmar starting from the post-independence period were still unable to stop for a long time. Due to those rebellions the country has faced difficulties to promote the nation as a modern thriving one. The civil war in Myanmar has lasted for six decades and it is the oldest unending war in the world.

Armed forces of U Thein Sein’s Government operate quite a lot of hostile assaults in recent months in Kachin and Northern Shan State even though suffering a heavy death toll. Fighting goes on fatally all through Kachin and Northern Shan State in the face of government peacemaking pledge to the United States and the EU. All the battles have occurred in KIO’s territories including some areas where government troops occupied Kachin environs after a 1994 ceasefire accord.

On the other hand, the government authorities frequently say that warfare still comes about in Kachin areas due to mixed-up positions of both armed units and close proximity between the two sides in forefront areas. In fact, the government armed forces have violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement and invaded Kachin controlled territories. Then, the government deployed more infantry units in Kachin region and turn down to pull out even though constant calls from KIO and local residents.

Three days of peace talks [8 – 10 October] between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government delegates was over and done with poor result in Myitkyina via a pretense joint statement signed by both sides. The joint-statement spelled out that both the KIO and the government were supportive of moving forward with the seven-point agreement reached in last May intended for deescalating tensions. The statement however could not reach out declaring a complete ceasefire.

As stated by those au fait with the talks, the government's peacemaking-team led by Minister Aung Min hard-pressed the KIO to agree a ceasefire before reaching any political approval, the Kachin News Group (KNG) said. The KIO wasn't ready to sign any deal in such a time of vagueness. The sociability created between the KIO and the government over a few months has been pretty damaged as a result of recent attack in Putao locality, northern Kachin state. Moreover, the KIO has been exceedingly doubtful of recent display by the government military deploying large numbers of troop reinforcements to southern Kachin state.

During the talks, the government officially invited the KIO to play a part in a nationwide ceasefire conference expected to be held in Naypyidaw before the end of the year. But, the KIO didn’t show any sign whether it will be present at the conference. Instead, the KIO openly declared its plan to host a meeting for all the ethnic rebel groups in de facto capital Laiza in Kachin State.

Although no more progress was made, Chinese diplomats and the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar attended the talks as observers. Also more other observers were the leaders of several Kachin political parties and cultural organizations. Many of more country’s armed rebel groups attended the talks as well including the Karen National Union (KNU), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Shan State Progressive Party/Restoration Council of the Shan State (RCSS), United Wa State Party, Chin National Front (CNF), Pa-o National Liberation Organization (PNLO), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) and All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF), according to the KNG.

In earlier media reports, bordering China pushed Myanmar accepting its diplomats as negotiator in a preliminary cease-fire agreement between the two sides. The KIO did not trust the Myanmar government, and raised the presence of the U.S. and U.K. to monitor the peace talks. Yet, China distrusts alien attendance on its border and turned down the KIO's request.

One noteworthy experience on 27 September last year, President U Thein Sein said in a landmark speech to the UN General Assembly that he wishes to end a long-lasting war with ethnic Kachin rebels. However, brutal hostilities continued in Kachin and Northern Shan State of the country. Differently, President U Thein Sein responded the media to blame KIO for continue fighting in the Kachin state. On the contrary, daily reports indicated that U Thein Sein’s armed forces continued the offensive war by sending more army battalions for Kachin war.

As a result, Kachin communities in the United States have launched two separate rallies on Sept 27, 2012, one in front of United Nations and another at Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York. Rally organizers from Kachin Alliance later handed a protest letter to the then border affairs Minister Thein Htay and Immigration Minister Khin Yi. Both ministers made a promise of handing over the letter to President, said a Kachin Alliance representative.

In brief, the letter highlights to commence a political dialogue leading to a genuine federal union that guarantees equality and self-determination for ethnic nationalities. The letter says that it is compulsory to issue a public statement declaring an end to offensive war against all armed ethnic nationalities’ forces. Moreover, the letter claims to declare transparently on actual casualty and financial cost of current civil war.

It also mentions to show kindness to government soldiers by keeping them away from an unjust war. It demands to stop the harassment, interrogation, and detention of the innocent Kachin civilians by the local authorities. It says that the government must guarantee of a free flow of domestic and international aid for Kachin IDPs, as the solution to the IDP problem needs to be a prerequisite to any and all future talks, military or political. The presence of UN observer teams or intermediary teams in conflict zones must be allowed to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in IDP camps.

In contrast, President Thein Sein government said that it looks forward to achieve a comprehensive ceasefire agreement with every ethnic group in the near future. However, the KIO also has been under pressure from the Kachin common public not to bargain beyond their preferred political demands with the government.

Ethnic minorities, including the Kachin people, have suffered decades of brutal military offensives in the name of “Disintegration of the Nation”. But on the contrary, attacks on the rustic civilians especially in ethnic areas continue endlessly. There is a constant demand from ethnic armed groups to allow their people equal political, social and economic rights. They demand their constitutional rights of self-determination and of equal representation since 1947.

While government is pressuring to sign a blank ceasefire agreement next month, the KIO maintains on a political solution, not just an uncertain truce. That’s the key difference between two parties.

- Asian Tribune -

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