Burma marks ‘Independence Day’ excluding Kachin nationalsBy Zin Linn Jan 05, 2012 1:54PM UTC
Burma’s namesake civilian government marked the country’s 64th Independence Day on 4 January. President Thein Sein sent a message to honor the occasion of the 64th Anniversary Independence Day. The government-owned media covered his Independence Day message on Wednesday.
In his message to the 64th Anniversary Independence Day, President Thein Sein says: “All the national races have been living in amity and intimacy respecting each other’s tradition and culture.”
While President is saying to be helpful to each other among the ethnic groups, his armed forces have been fighting fiercely against the Kachin Independence Organization in the Kachin State up to date. It is contradictory message of the president since the regime has been launching war against the Kachin rebels in full swing.
Burma’s armed forces have currently continued waging war against ethnic minorities in Kachin and northern Shan State. Due to the army’s continued offensive against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), none of the citizens in Kachin and northern Shan State enjoyed the Independence Day, quoting local residents, the Kachin News Group reported.
In an official message released for Independence Day, President Thein Sein emphasized the importance of unity and solidarity among the country’s multi ethnic population. In the face of calling for unity, the Burma Army continued to launch war against the KIO in Manmaw (Bhamo) district, Waingmaw Township and Myitkyina Township in Kachin State, and Kutkai, Namtu, Muse and Nam Hkam townships in Northern Shan State.
According to the KIO Officials’ estimation, more than 130 battalions of the government armed forces have currently involved in warfare against the KIO. It is the largest military offensive within more than twenty years. The army’s encroachment has continued despite an official order issued by President Thein Sein on 10 November that signaled the army to discontinue its offensive.
The government troops are arriving at the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 4th Brigade area where the KIA and the Burma Army are fighting in Muse district, Northern Shan State, referring local sources, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.
As said by the Kachin News Group, more than 50,000 civilians have been forced from their homes due to the government’s offensive. There are no sufficient shelters in a narrow strip of KIO territory along the Sino-Burma border. Most of the war victims have yet to receive any aid from international NGOs or the UN agencies.
On December 12 the UN sent five Burmese staff from Rangoon to visit refugee camps located in Laiza home to the KIO’s headquarters, however much needed humanitarian aid is yet to arrive, said Doi Pyi Sa who chairs the KIO’s ‘IDP and Refugee Relief Committee’.
The conflict between the army and the KIO began last June more than 3 months after Thein Sein’s so-called civilian government took power from General Than Shwe, as the government decided unilaterally to terminate a 17-year old ceasefire.
Burma’s sixty-four year-old Historic Panglong Agreement has been ignored by the successive Burmese regimes so far. The said agreement has been disregarded by the generals as they rule the country. The Panglong Agreement was signed on Feb. 12, 1947, between General Aung San and leaders of the Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic groups guaranteeing to establish a genuine federal union of Burma.
Shortly after the Panglong agreement was signed General Aung San was assassinated. However, successive governments failed to implement the agreement. The KIO was formed in 1961 in reaction to the failure of implementing the Panglong agreement.
The KIO, the second strongest ethnic armed group in Burma also leads the United Nationalities Federal Union (UNFC), the political and military alliance formed by 11 Burmese ethnic organizations. KIO leaders said the political dialogue with the central government will have to be with the alliance parties since other ethnic groups are also conflicting with the current government.
In hope of setting up political dialogue, the KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with the then junta on February 24, 1994 and supported the military-favored 2008 constitution. But, no political dialogue happened in the 17-year ceasefire time. Instead, the KIO was squeezed transforming into the government-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF) before the November 7 election.
The latest series of armed clashes in Kachin state have prompted observers to believe that purposeful war in the border regions may not be stoppable.
The Thein Sein government seems to be unenthusiastic to end hostilities in Kachin State. So, it is clear the government is not heading toward democracy. As an alternative, it is attempting to take over the Kachin State brutally.