Burma Army leaders call for annihilation of ethnic rebels in Shan State
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Burma Army leaders call for annihilation of ethnic rebels in Shan State

The Burmese Army had suffered more than 1,000 casualties from September-December 2012, while fighting against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a number the Shan Herald Agency for News reported based on a report leaked from the Burma Army’s Lashio-based Northeastern Region Command (NERC).

As indicated by Shan News, the information was an excerpt from a speech given by Brigadier-General Aung Soe, NERC commander in Lashio in February 2013.  It was a follow-up to the tri-annual meeting of top commanders in Naypyitaw.

The Burma Army had deployed 10 infantry divisions in the campaign. There were 355 engagements between the two sides, 95 of which were heavy ones. Brig-Gen Aung Soe explained that the army lost more than 1,000 soldiers as a result. However, the government army effectively occupied all the targeted strategic areas by using heavy guns and air support, he said.

He also read out the order of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, which emphasized the overall annihilation of the KIA’s 4th Brigade in Shan State and the remnant Kokang group led by Peng Jia-sheng.

He also said the army has to wipe out all armed groups along the Nawng Khio-Namkham highway. The army must set up strongholds along the Salween’s west bank opposite the Wa area, along with the construction of all-weather road to make contact with the said strongholds.

The Commander-in-Chief’s order also mentioned the need to strengthen security for the Sino-Arakan twin pipelines plus the Shweli hydropower plants in Namkham.

The Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) signed a preparatory treaty on 30 May, 2013, to trim down military concerns in Burma’s Kachin state and northern Shan state.

The eighth round of talks between the two sides took place in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, inside Burma under the central government since fighting resumed in Kachin state in June 2011. Previous rounds of talks took place in the Chinese border town of Ruili, as well as in Mai Ja Yang, the KIO’s second largest town in Kachin state.

The eighth round of talks started on 28 May in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. On the third day of negotiations, the government peacemaking team and the KIO reached a seven-point preliminary agreement.

The government’s peace delegation was led by Union Minister Aung Min and Lt-Gen. Myint Soe, who is head of the Bureau of Special Operation-1 that watches over military operations in Kachin State. The KIO delegation at the talks was led by Brig-Gen Sumlut Gun Maw, the Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the KIA.

After a seven-point agreement was signed on 30 May between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government, fighting was brought under control. Many analysts consider that the seven-point agreement may indicate additional improvement towards reaching a peaceful conclusion.

However, their outlook was totally wrong. Because, clashes occurred in the government-controlled Chipwi Township in northeastern Kachin state greater than before since mid-August. According to Kachin News Group, hostilities have taken place as well in the KIA 4th brigade area in northern Shan state.

Fighting concentrated in northern Kachin and Shan states threatens to stop the progress of an interim peace in the region.  The up-to-date conflict in both areas could have distrustful end-product for upcoming peace talks, remarked a KIO official.

Sumlut Gam, leader of the KIO’s peace talk delegation, told the Kachin News Group that the 30-May agreement “included reducing military conflict, however it was not a ceasefire.”

As both parties are obliged to abide by the agreement, the KIO follow it as much as possible, Sumlut Gam said. But the government army continues attacking the KIO and it may perhaps affect peace talks, he said.

Daily clashes have been reported around Law Hkawng and Myaw Jawng areas on the east side of N’Mai Hka river in Chipwi Township. A combined force of Burma Army Light Infantry battalion 521, border guard force (BGF) and local militia attacked  KIA battalion-10 in Law Hkawng on August 17, according to KNG, referencing KIA officials in the Laiza headquarters.

Zahkung Ting Ying, a former leader of the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) and current MP in parliament told the KNG that the bloodshed will continue as long as KIA troops remain in territory controlled by the NDA-K BGF. The MP was making it clear that as far as the BGF were concerned Chipwi, Pangwa and Sawlaw remain out-of-the-way to the KIO. The KIA created a post in Chipwi Township in late April 2012.

Skirmishing has also increased in Muse, Kutkai, Mantong, and Momeik townships where KIA 4th Brigade have control. Clashes have taken place particularly near the completed Shwe Gas Pipeline, which is pumping oil from Arakan state to China’s Yunnan province. If the conflict goes on in this way, it will threaten the mutual trust achieved since the seven-point agreement was signed, said Sumlut Gam.

Ahead of the eighth round of talks, on 22 May, the Kachin National Consultative Assembly (KNCA) issued a press statement on the political and military conflict in Kachin region. The Assembly demands four main points in the statement – Equal ethnic rights, justice and peace; Self-rule over our traditional territories; Full rights of self-determination and autonomy; Establishment of a genuine Federal Union.

Burma’s 66-year-old Panglong Agreement has been ignored by the successive Burmese regimes. The said agreement has also been ignored by President Thein Sein’s government. The Panglong Agreement was signed on Feb. 12, 1947, between General Aung San and leaders of the Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic groups guaranteeing a genuine federal union of Burma.

However, the current government’s warfare upon ethnic armed resistance groups is totally different from the President’s inaugural speech. As the hostilities against ethnic groups were started by the Burmese government, it has taken a faint vision of the ceasefire bid in Kachin State.