Amid Ongoing Kachin Clashes, President Urged to Stop the Army

President Thein Sein takes notes during a meeting with civil society organizations in Rangoon on Jan. 20, 2013. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The government should forbid the army from spending any more money on fighting in Kachin State, an ethnic Kachin leader urged President Thein Sein over the weekend, as clashes continued despite the president’s reassurances that he had called for a ceasefire.

At a government-organized event in Rangoon with hundreds of civil society leaders, the Kachin leader said the government’s budget should not fund a war that has claimed civilian lives.

“There are children who are now fatherless, wives who have become widows and women who have lost their lovers in the fighting,” said Nang Raw, program director of the Nyein Foundation, a national NGO based in Kachin State that has participated in peace talks between the government and ethnic groups around the country.

Nang Raw added that if the army wanted to control the area around Laiza, a town on the Chinese border where the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) keeps its headquarters, the government should ensure that civilians were not harmed.

Fighting was ongoing in Burma’s northernmost state over the weekend, with clashes breaking out near at least three rebel positions in Lajayang region, near Laiza, on Saturday, the Associated Press reported, citing a KIA official.

Thein Sein said he had instructed the army not to attack Laiza, where tens of thousands of civilians live and have taken shelter in camps for internally displaced persons.

“The government has already ordered the army not to destroy or seize Laiza. This proves that our army loves peace,” he said at the event on Sunday, at Rangoon’s regional Parliament building.

He said the government would invite the KIO to peace talks.

“We will provide equal rights to the ethnic people, to have a permanent peace in our country,” he said, calling for broader participation in peace efforts.

“It’s not enough for leaders to shake hands with each other and agree on peace,” he said. “It’s important to let normal people add their voice to ensure a permanent peace in the country.”

Since coming to power in 2011, Thein Sein’s administration has signed ceasefires agreements with 10 of the country’s major ethnic armed groups, which are seeking greater autonomy from the national government.

The KIA and the government army have been fighting in the resource-rich Kachin State since an earlier ceasefire between both sides broke down in June 2011.

About 100,000 civilians have been displaced in the fighting, and three civilians were killed during an artillery strike in Laiza last week.

“I will try to work for a nationwide ceasefire, as the other ethnic armed groups have asked, and as we prepare for political dialogue,” Thein Sein said.

14 Responses to Amid Ongoing Kachin Clashes, President Urged to Stop the Army

  1. Permanent peace? If President really wants to see permanent peace between ethnics and the central government, he must immediately bridge the differences and disagreements with political dialogue which is the only solution. It is discouraging that he is still talking “Peace Talk” which is not enough to bring real and permanent peace in the Union. We all the people want to see real peace in the Union but the government’s attempt to achieve is not good enough.

  2. A sovereign state must never give into any kind of rebellion. To do so is to betray rhe very essence of being a sovereign state. The rebels must surrender. Their false consciousness is a legacy of colonialism. That is a fact. Rebels do not represent anyone but themselves.

    • And, the answer is clear and simple. You do not understand the Union System. I can tell that you neither understand how the Union of Burma was established nor how she was betrayed. Maybe, you messed up the Union System with the military’s Unitary System. You need to study more about the history Burma proper and before British colonial period, the colonial period and after independence. You cannot just throw away the history and the truth from our endless conflict. You may want the ethnics to bow at the Burmese and say “Yes” all the time to your stepfathers. It will not happen, my man.

    • Sovereign state of Burma was created by cheating the Panglong Treaty signed by the respective leaders of ethnics group. Successive majority bamar dominated government uses arm to control the colony of Bamar. In fact, once the treaty is not honored the true spirit of Union does not exist.

    • Maung Myochit
      Upon Panglong agreement treaty, bama military thugs are invader and Kachin are self-defense. There is no rebel in Burma. I never heard and hear that ethnic armies invade and attack Rangoon, Mandalay and Nay-pyi-daw. There are no issue for nationalist ( myochit in Burmese) and no fear of disintegration of union of Burma if all bama governments honor Panglong treaty (General Aung san’s lip service or slogan- one kyat equality for each ethnic with bama). All the promise and words from bama military governments are faked and poisonous from now and then if there is no political dialogue in all ceasefire agreements.

    • Rebellion is a way of life perpetuated by injustice and unfairness. Political settlement must be sought. Surrender is an ultimatum not dialogue for peace. Autonomy is not independence unless they can see no alternatives. If the generals represent the peoples of Burma, pigs might fly.

    • “Rebel do not represent anyone but themselves.”

      That’s how the Kachin views the Burmen. For Kachin, Burmen are rebels, bandits, theives, liars et al. Wherever Burman military goes, what follow are rapes, murders, tortures, loots, et al.

      How many hours did Thein Sein cease fire call last, by the way? It’s got to be a new record that rivals the length of Sein Lwin’s presidency. How can you even call such banditry a governance.

  3. The treaty of Panglong is still as valid as of today as the day it was signed.

  4. Doesn’t the President has the power to sack the army commander if his order is being ignored? Someone please educate me on this.

  5. Only nationwide ceasefire can success if Military was under Government control and Military Chief takes order from President.
    President must be nation Commander-in-Chief and Military must take order from President.
    Current relationship between Government and Military is Military Chief does not take order from President or Defense Minister. Gen MIn Aung Hlaing position is above of the Government.
    Current ex dictatorship Than Shwe’s Constitution is complicating country reform. It’s proving the Constitution must be revoked and need to replace with new Constitution.
    You can not even dream about holding temporary truce with Burmese Army unless Gen Min Aung Hlaing respects Government’s authority and taken order from President.
    President U Thein Sein needs urgent direct dialogue with Gen Min Aung Hlaing for sake of innocent peoples’ live in Kachin State and our Nation.

    • I agree with you. Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing need to have dialogue before offering dialogue to the ethnics. Min Aung Hlaing is Burma’s supreme leader. Therefore, Thein Sein is just a puppet president. Can we call Burma as a democratic nation then? Absolutely “NOT”. In a democratic nation, President is supposed to be “Commander in chief”. As long as a president is under a general, the country is nowhere near to be a democratic nation.

  6. President Thein Sein & ethnics leaders, what they said is right and both are in right time for set up polictcal talk without conditions & find the way how to get peace and develope of country. Immediately both sides have to act drop arms and put hands & hold each other talk & walk into future.

  7. President Thein Sein said one thing and the Military did another, Mr President… are you a joker to entertain both the Military (Gen Min Aung Hlaing) and the Ethnic people?

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