The civil war between the Kachin Independence Army and government armed forces has become more merciless, with day by day hostilities. Despite talk of reform by President Thein Sein’s government, its soldiers have systematically accelerated hostilities in Kachin state.
Even though Thein Sein explained last week in New York that he had ordered his troops to stop fighting on Kachin frontlines, the truth on the ground is a different story. Questions have arisen about whether his orders are being faithfully carried out.
The Burma Army has been committing crimes against humanity during the Kachin offensive, especially toward the unarmed ordinary citizens on the Kachin frontline. The government soldiers have been committing crimes in progress for decades. Such kinds of maltreatments have been documented by several international and regional human rights watch groups.
Since June 2011, the Burma Army has been not only assaulting the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) but also the innocent Kachin natives. This extraordinary civil war has in fact been inflicting huge casualties from both the government side and the Kachin rebels. The worst action done by the Burmese soldiers is inhuman revenge against ordinary Kachin villagers. There are now around 100,000 Kachin refugees, who have run away from attacks made by Burma Army. As Kachin villagers have abandoned their homes, their villages became ruins and the area changed into a no-man’s-land where native people are at risk of homicide and forced labor. For women, they may be victims of sexual assault by the government soldiers.
According to the Kachinland News, the quantity of Burmese army battalions deployed in Hpakant areas has increased rapidly since fighting began in the Hpakant jade-mining areas. Additional Burmese troops sent to the Kachin region are made up of 8 infantry battalions from Monywa-based North Western Command, 1 battalion from Myitkyina-based Northern Command, 2 battalions from Mogaung-based 3rd Military Operations Command, and 1 battalion under Magway-based 88th Light Infantry Division.
It also mentions that an additional 8 battalions were deployed in areas under KIA’s 1st Brigade in Law Hkawng. The latest Burmese army battalions being deployed in KIA’s 1st Brigade areas are 29th LIR, 37th LIR, 74th LIR, 77th LIR, 236th LIR, 301st LIB, 437th LIB, 421st LIB and infantry battalions under Monywa-based 88th LID, Kachinland News said.
Moreover, Kachinland News reported about the Burmese army’s Gang Dau Yang-based 367th Field Artillery Command which reportedly fired several rounds of 120mm and 81mm shells on Ja Hta village where Mali Hka power plant is located on Oct 1 at 9 am.
A battle took place between KIA’s 8th Battalion under 4th Brigade and Burmese army’s 130th LIR near Pyen Bum (Man Shin) in Northern Shan State on Oct 1 at 8:30 am. Another battle took place between KIA’s 9th Battalion under 4th Brigade and Burmese army’s Nampaka-based 123rd LIR in Kutkai areas in Northern Shan State on Sept 28.
Fighting also flared as KIA’s mobile battalion encountered Burmese army’s 105th LIR between Yinsai and Hkindu Kawng in KIO’s territory on Sept 29. 5 Burmese soldiers and 1 Kachin soldier were reportedly killed in this battle.
Fierce fighting continued between KIA’s 2nd Brigade and Burmese army’s 58th LIR between Sani Hku and Dumbang near Kamaing town on Sept 28 at 9 am.
On 27 September, President Thein Sein said in a landmark speech to the UN General Assembly that he wishes to end a long-lasting war with ethnic Kachin rebels. However, brutal hostilities continued in Kachin and the Northern Shan State of Burma. President Thein Sein responded by blaming the KIO/KIA for the continued fighting in the Kachin state. On the contrary, daily reports indicated that the Burmese army continued its offensive war by sending more army battalions for the Kachin war.
Remarkably, Kachin communities in the United States have launched two separate rallies on Sept 27, 2012, one in front of United Nations and another at the Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) to the United Nations in New York. Rally organizers from Kachin Alliance later handed a protest letter to border affairs Minister Thein Htay and Immigration Minister Khin Yi. Both ministers made a promise of handing over the letter to President, said a Kachin Alliance representative.
In brief, the letter highlights the need for a political dialogue leading to a genuine federal union that guarantees equality and self-determination for ethnic nationalities. The letter says that it is compulsory to issue a public statement declaring an end to offensive war against all armed ethnic nationalities’ forces. Moreover, the letter claims to declare transparently on actual casualty and financial cost of the current civil war.
It also mentions the need to show kindness to Burmese soldiers by keeping them away from an unjust war. It demands and end to the harassment, interrogation, and detention of the innocent Kachin civilians by the local authorities. It says that the government must guarantee a free flow of domestic and international aid for Kachin IDPs, as the solution to the IDP problem needs to be a prerequisite to any and all future talks, military or political. The presence of UN observer teams or intermediary teams in conflict zones must be allowed to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in IDP camps.
During the meeting with the two ministers, Kachin Alliance representatives also claimed the release of Lahtaw Brang Shawng and other Kachin political prisoners arbitrarily detained. Immigration Minister Khin Yi took note of the demand and promised to look into those unlawful detention cases.
While President Thein Sein has been pledging to build a democracy-friendly nation, his army has been violating basic human rights. It is a dishonor not only for the government but also for the whole nation that Thein Sein refused to say Burma Army has violated a variety of human rights in various ethnic areas.