The Burma information ministry pronounces the Burma Army will stop its fighting against ethnic Kachin rebels, taking into account growing international condemnation. The government’s information ministry on Friday announced a close-down to military operations in Kachin state.

The Lower House of Burma (Myanmar) made a request to the Union Peacemaking Central Committee and KIO/KIA at the second day of the sixth regular session of the First People’s Parliament on 11 January 2013, The New Light of Myanmar said Friday.

The call made by the Lower House to Union Peace-making Central Committee and KIO/KIA says the members of parliament have felt sadness for the local people of Kachin state who have been suffering the consequences of the ongoing war. The fighting caused losses on both sides due to the daily armed conflicts in Kachin state, it says.

Burma Army soldiers on a parade. Pic:AP

It also says that the country has been moving towards a democracy in accordance with the desires of the people as its main concern. Moreover, the request emphasizes that it is not the time to use the power of the gun nowadays. The armed conflicts in Kachin State will never end with the exception of a negotiation process.

The request also says there have been difficulties holding talks between the members of the peace-making team of the government and representatives of KIO/KIA as military action swells in the region. So, in the absence of peace and stability, local people have to survive amid great upset and suffer numerous miseries as they are stuck between the conflict of the two forces.

Therefore, the Lower House has made a request urging the Union Peace-making Central Committee and KIO/KIA to make use of the electronic online negotiation and publicly make their discussions transparent as participants of both peacemaking teams find it hard to cross the threshold to the negotiation table. The request letter says it wishes to ease the military tensions in favor of the people’s voices while building trust through the negotiation.  Hence, it would pave the way for the lasting peace, says the request letter signed by the Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann.

Lower House Speaker Thura Shwe Mann attends a regular session of parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Monday, April 23, 2012.(Photo: AP/ Khin Maung Win)

Then on 18 January, at the People’s Parliament in the Friday session it immediately called for the ending of the war in Kachin State and to again start peace-talks to create domestic peace as soon as possible.

The call comes after the People’s Parliamentary Representative Daw Dwe Bu from the M’Jangyang Constituency of Kachin State submitted an urgent proposal. The discussion pursued the urgent issue under Section 133 of People’s Parliament Bylaw at the third day of the sixth regular session of the first People’s Parliament (18-1-2013).

It was a pressing proposal urging the People’s Parliament to endorse the proposal in order to  immediately stop the exchange of fire between KIO/KIA and government troops in Kachin State. At the same time, it urged them to return to the negotiation table as soon as possible to establish internal peace. All the People’s Parliament representatives approved it without objection.

It is horrendous because the Burma Army has used not only heavy artillery but also enforced gunship helicopters and jet fighters in this military operation against the ethnic Kachin rebels. The news about government airstrikes hits the headlines these days.

The United States and the United Nations are warning the Thein Sein government to stop air strikes against the Kachin rebels. The most recent battles have indicated critical expansion in the warfare because the government has ordered airstrikes against Kachin rebels’ headquarters in Laiza.

The Burmese army appears to have indiscriminately shelled the town of Laiza in northern Burma’s Kachin State in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

“Burmese President Thein Sein needs to order his army commanders to respect the laws of war and end unlawful attacks on civilians,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Both the Burmese army and the KIA should take all necessary precautions to keep the tens of thousands of civilians in and around Laiza from harm’s way.”

There are approximately 90,000 IDPs in Kachin State, with approximately 60,000 residing in sizable camps in KIA-controlled territory along the border with China’s Yunnan province. The Burmese government has repeatedly denied humanitarian access to the United Nations and international aid groups seeking access to displaced people in KIA territory, Human Rights Watch said.

“President Thein Sein should get the message that deliberately denying aid to tens of thousands of war-ravaged people in need is completely at odds with his government’s self-appointed image as champions of rights and reforms,” Robertson said. “Concerned governments should demand an immediate end to Burma’s systematic denial of humanitarian assistance in Kachin State.” 

The escalation of air attacks is menacing the country’s reform process. The intensity of the air strikes with the threat of a ground invasion of Kachin administrative capital Laiza further complicated relations between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization.

According to today’s AP News, Burma’s military declared Friday it will stop its attacks on ethnic Kachin rebels in the country’s north because it has achieved its goal of securing an army outpost there. Whether fighting will actually cease remains unclear, since the Kachin Independence Army has not yet made a similar declaration.

Although the government announced the Burma Army will stop its fighting against ethnic Kachin rebels, the ethnic rebels do not believe the government’s call for peace so far. The reason is that while offering peace, the government forces have been occupying more and more territories known as Kachin land.