Burma needs to value peace talks in Kachin State
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Burma needs to value peace talks in Kachin State

Government of Burma and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) or the ethnic Kachin rebels signed a preparatory treaty on 30 May this year that seems to downscale military concerns in Burma’s Kachin state and northern Shan state. Many analysts consider that this preliminary agreement may direct to additional improvement towards accomplishing a peaceful conclusion.

The eighth round of three-day talks started on 28 May in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina. On the third day of the negotiations, the government peacemaking team and the Kachin Independence Organization (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 watch 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 Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The most important points that agreed by both parties are to carry out difficult task to attain decreasing and termination of hostilities and to maintain negotiations on military issues concerning rearrangement of respective armed forces, according to the groundwork agreement.

A seven point agreement aimed at reducing military tensions seems to have been forgotten by the government. Burma military continue to attack Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) bases. The agreement that was signed during the end of May peace talks fell short of a ceasefire, but was supposed to help end the fighting. A mechanism was agreed by both sides to put in place to ensure it.

However, Lamai Gum Ja, a peace broker of Myitkyina based Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) told Kachin News Group (KNG) it was unknown when the government will meet with the PCG and the KIO’s Technical Advisory Team.

Kachin Independence Organization’s officially opened its Technical Advisory Team office in the capital of Myitkyina in Kachin State on July 23. It’s an Ironic that on the same day of the inauguration of the office, government troops attacked KIO’s armed forces in northern Shan state. Fighting followed near Mai Ja Yang, the second capital of KIO in eastern Kachin state.

As reported by the KNG, On 17 August, joint forces of the Burma military light infantry battalion 521 and a Border Guard Force (BGF), formerly the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) led by Zahkung Ting Ying, hit a KIA military battalion 10, under 1st brigade, base in Jubili near Chipwi. The NDA-K had defected from the KIO some years back.

On 19 August, fighting continued at Myu Jawng, between Chipwi and Sawlaw.  KIA battalion 10 troops battled it against the government backed BGF.  At least two soldiers from the government’s side were reported to have been killed in the two separate clashes.  Ammunition and guns were captured, quoting verification by KIA officers based in the Laiza headquarters, KNG said.

These latest government offences are interrupting the implementation of a peace process by the KIO’s technical advisory team, said Lamai Gum Ja of the PCG.

The conflict is also affecting the more than 70,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in KIO controlled territories along the China border from returning home, said Doi Pyi Sa, head of KIO Refugee and IDP Relief Committee.

If Thein Sein government has a genuine scheme of political reform right through the country, the first thing it ought to do is to bring to a standstill the war in Kachin state at any rate. Human Rights Watch called on the Burmese government to ask the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish an office in Burma with a standard protection, promotion, and technical assistance mandate.

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, reminds towards the international community that the situation in Burma’s Kachin state is not at a point of satisfactory. People of Burma have to go for a long way, particularly those in conflict areas, to meet the benefit from recent reform promises of the current quasi-civilian government.

In actual fact, the government’s armed forces are behind crimes against humanity. The human rights abuses of Burmese soldiers in Kachin State are serious violations of international laws. It is also the duty of the existing government to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of war refugees and internally displaced populations in various ethnic states.

The KIO continue to stick to their earlier position, and not willing to sign another ceasefire without political dialogue.

How much time does President Thein Sein requires creating nationwide ceasefire, a transition to democratic state and full respect for human rights? The cost of further delay will be paid in thousands of innocent lives, lost opportunities and protracted ethnic conflict. President should not drag his feet ending hostilities in Kachin state and also should not waste time honoring ethnic people’s autonomy.