The unstoppable Kachin war, a major problem in BurmaBy Zin Linn Aug 22, 2012 3:56PM UTC
As a result of ongoing civil war that has been waged for more than sixty years, Burma has become a largely dilapidated country in the region. Civil war in Burma has taken place since the country achieved its independence from British colonial rulers in 1948. Regrettably, the country lost its liberty in 1962 since the military led by the late dictator Gen. Ne Win seized power and cracked down on all democracy institutions, including free press in Burma.
Furthermore, consecutive military regimes never change their war policy against the ethnic rebels who defend just for their self-determination. Those military rulers have no intention of building an egalitarian federal union state; instead they ordered the ethnic armed-groups to surrender. The worst is that the military keeps on slaughtering thousands and thousands of their own citizens and displaced millions in conflict areas, and deliberately oppressed the democratic political practice in the country under their rule.
At present, brutal warfare launched by the military-backed President Thein Sein government goes on and on mainly in ethnic areas, especially in Kachin State. The Burma Army continues merciless fighting on the ethnic Kachin people. It is the practice of government armed forces using landmines, bombarding artillery shells, attacking ordinary civilians, using rape as war weapon, taking hostages for forced labor, destructing citizens’ properties, sustenance and agricultural farms and burning the ethnic villages.
In fact, the government armed forces repeatedly breach principles of Geneva Conventions, which were drawn up in 1949. According to the Conventions, civilians must be protected by warring parties in any case. Civilians must not be discriminated against because of race, religion or political opinion. Geneva Conventions also not allows forcing them to give information. Civilian must not be used to shield military operations or make an area immune from military operations. Civilian must not be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Women must not be indecently assaulted, raped, or forced into prostitution.
However, the government of Burma and its troops turn a deaf ear to what the Geneva Convention says. Government soldiers discriminate against the Kachin ethnic people because of their race and religion. The Burmese army has unlawfully used Kachin civilians for forced labor, which has long been a serious problem in Burma’s ethnic areas, Human Rights Watch said. Several Kachin natives told Human Rights Watch that Burmese army soldiers fired on them as they were fleeing their village.
As a result, fearing abuse from the Burmese army, tens of thousands of Kachin fled their villages. While President Thein Sein has been promising to build a democratic nation, his military wing has been violating basic human rights. All these war crimes violated by Burma Army will come back to haunt the President and his Commander-in-Chief of the military.
As reported by the Kachinland News, severe battles between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burmese government army carry on throughout Kachin and Northern Shan State since more Burmese troops are being deployed in KIA’s territory. Burmese government soldiers under Thaton-based44th LID, Hmawbi-based 77th LID, Magway-based 88th LID, and Meiktila-based 99th LID have been continuously transported to Kachin and Shan State in the face of calls for peace from quasi-civilian government.
Kachinland News also said that a battle took place between a KIA’s mobile column and Burmese army’s 37th LIB at Galang Ja village located between Seng Mai and Ta Law Gyi on Aug 16 at 8 am. Another skirmish took place between KIA’s 3rd Battalion under 5th Brigade and Burmese army’s 88th LID at San Pai village on Aug 16. One more head-on clash occurred on 16 August in Northern Shan State; KIA soldiers from 34th Battalion under 4th Brigade fought against government soldiers under Burmese army’s North Eastern Command based in Lashio.
A day ahead on August 15, security forces of KIA’s headquarters fought against Burmese army’s 390th LIR for four hours beginning 12 noon near Namsan-yang village. Burmese Army’s artillery unit stationed at Dum Bang hill and Lai Lum Awng Ja have reportedly pounded with 81 mm mortar shells onto Namsan-yang village for 15 times and Burmese army’s Gang Dau Yang base fired 105 mm mortar shells for at least 17 times.
Burmese president Thein Sein has ordered twice to end offensive operations against KIO so as to start negotiations but the Burmese army responds by sending more troops to the Kachin frontline. An informed source says that the Burmese army has to ignore all orders and focus on its military maneuvers regardless of the changing political landscape.
Then, what is the government’s objective in the war against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)? Although President Thein Sein has been speaking about the national unity for many times, the wars with ethnic groups continue.
President Thein Sein’s government used to say that it has been trying to build a peaceful and developed country; on the other hand the momentum of civil war is increasing. So the words of the government are not in harmony with the acts of its armed forces.
If President Thein Sein has genuine aspirations to poverty alleviation as well as good governance, he must stop all forms of civil conflict that make the country underprivileged in the region. Most analysts agree that allowing civil war and saying poverty alleviation and good governance looks like an impractical futile strategy.