Burma president talks peace, ignores Kachin sufferingBy Zin Linn Jan 22, 2013 1:45AM UTC
President Thein Sein delivered an address at a meeting with community-based social organizations at the hall of Yangon Region Government in Yangon on Sunday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Monday.
President Thein Sein said his government has stopped using confrontation as a way to solve problems. Instead, his cabinet has been solving problems and differences through deliberation and dialogue.
He said that in order to create political changes, government, parliament, political parties, business associations, civil society organizations, military, and particularly the whole population, have worked very hard in performing the duties they are assigned.
He also called on the civil society groups to step up their contribution in nation- and state-building activities. He explained that he did not mean civil society organizations must agree with government on everything. He said that he was inviting them to work with the government in the areas of nation- building and peace-building activities.
He said that signing of peace agreements just by leaders will not guarantee the peace. Public and civil society organizations must participate in the peace process.
“I will always recognize civil society organizations as vital forces in the state-building process,” President Thein Sein said. “I would like to call for civil society organizations to join in the state building activities that take into account the real conditions in the society.”
Concerning the conflict in the Kachin State, he said that he called for a ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and will keep on until valid peace is fully set up in our country.
The government has concluded ceasefire agreements with 10 major ethnic armed groups, he confirmed. The KIA is the only major armed group that has yet to reach a ceasefire agreement with the government.
However, there was no mention of the call for investigation into Burma Army’s War Crimes in Laiza by 16 Kachin organizations and civil society groups last week. The 16 organizations expressed serious concern over the widespread human rights violations being committed by the Burmese army against Kachin civilians, including the ongoing indiscriminate shelling of residential areas of Laiza, which recently led to the death of three civilians aged between 14 and 65, and injury of four others.
The Kachin civil society groups’ statement says: “Since June 2011, when the 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) was broken, widespread human rights violations by the Burmese army, including sexual violence against women and children, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, have resulted in extensive displacement of over 100,000 civilians. Since December 14, 2012, there has been an escalation of violence, in total disregard for international human rights and humanitarian standards, including bombings by jet fighters of both military and civilian objectives around Laiza.”
Then the groups demanded the Thein Sein government to end Burma Army’s bombardments targeting civilian quarters, to cease the military offensive against the KIO/KIA headquarters in Laiza during the peace negotiations and to let international and local NGOs access the Kachin internally displaced persons’ camps in order to deliver humanitarian assistance.
They also called for parliament members, including the National League for Democracy’s representatives and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to raise their voices against the ongoing human rights abuses against the Kachin civilians, in accordance with their duty to protect every citizen of the Union.
Although Thein Sein said he would like to call for civil society organizations to join in the state building activities ,especially in peacemaking process, he did not take into account the proposal sent by 16 Kachin Organizations/Civil Society Groups so far.
Thein Sein said Friday that the military will stop its attacks on ethnic Kachin rebels. However, the fighting still ongoing as government troops move towards Kachin HQ in Laiza.