Burma’s FM talks peace as shelling of ethnic Kachin continuesBy Zin Linn Sep 29, 2011 4:00PM UTC
Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin told the Assembly’s high-level debate on September 27 that his government has launched a series of political, economic and social reforms aimed at improving the welfare of its people, but insisted these efforts are being hindered by international economic sanctions.
As a signal of ‘national reconsolidation,’ the government last month offered an olive branch to all “national race armed groups,” FM Maung Lwin said.
But, while Maung Lwin was delivering an address about his regime’s inclusive policy towards ethnic armed groups, his government has been launching a major offensive targeting the Kachin Independence Army’s Brigade 4 near the Sino-Burma border.
Maj-Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw, commander of northeastern Shan State regional command, takes charge of driving Kachin rebel troops out of Shan State near the Sino-Burmese border. China’s major oil pipeline between Burma’s Kyaukpyu deep-sea port on Arakan coast in the Bay of Bengal to Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province will pass through central Burma and next to the current conflict zones in Shan State. That will extensively improve China’s energy security.
Kachin rebels are keeping hold of the hilly terrain of both Kachin and northern Shan states where they have been combating the Burma Army for self-determination since 1961.
The four days of heavy fighting between the Burma Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma’s northeast Shan State has produced over 20,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), Kachin News Group reported.
Most IDPs are mothers and their children as well as elderly men and women who are fleeing to nearby towns, churches and the China border, leaving behind their homes, livestock, paddy fields, land and crops, quoting local sources, KNG said. Most schools in the war zone have been closed as Burmese government’s all-out offensive started on Saturday.
Some war-stricken refugees are fleeing to Pangsai and Mongkoe, but the victims are prevented from crossing into China by both Burmese police and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Border Guard Force.
According to IDPs in Kyukok (Pangsai), a large number are fleeing from Northern Shan State after government troops fired hundreds of 120 mm mortar rounds daily into the camps and villages in the KIA controlled areas since Saturday.
The ongoing civil war in Kachin State between the Burma Army and KIA has intensified since June 9. Over 30,000 Kachin IDPs have fled to the camps in KIA controlled areas, near the Sino-Burma border as well as to government-controlled towns. Non-Governmental Organizations, churches and oversea Kachin communities have been helping IDPs in both KIA and government controlled areas In Kachin State.
Until now, IDPs in northern Shan State have not received any aid from the Burmese government or non-governmental organizations, church leaders said. As said by the KIA brigade officials, there is no end in sight of the ongoing war and thousands of IDPs under the KIA Brigade 4 controlled area are likely flee soon.
The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has rejected an offer of Burmese government’s new peace talks. The government’s offer was rejected because it did not include countrywide political dialogue but only talks with each individual ethnic armed group, quoting Salang Kaba Lar Nan, Joint General Secretary-2 of the KIO, Kachin News Group said.
According to Lar Nan, the peace offer statement lacks political dialogue. The government forces the ethnic groups to talk under the rule of the military-centered 2008 Constitution. Peace negotiations have failed because the KIO desires to solve the country’s six-decade-long political problems based on the 1947 Panglong Agreement. However, the government is intent on negotiations based on the 2008 Constitution.
As the ethnic armed groups did not agree to the 2008 Constitution, the government peace offer seems to be empty. Unless there is genuine movement toward political change initiated by the government, such as releasing political prisoners and genuine talks with all political stakeholders, Burma’s six-decade long political stalemate will not be erased simply.
The Kachin Independence Organization urges the international community, including the UN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Burma’s neighbors, to facilitate ending country’s civil war by way of national reconciliation.
In fact, Burmese government needs to offer a genuine olive branch to ethnic armed groups, including the KIO, if it really wants lifting of international economic sanctions that – as said by Wunna Maung Lwin – hampered the country’s growth.