Burma Hits Back at US Criticism of Kachin Conflict

KIA soldier hides in the trenches at Hkaya Bum outpost on Jan. 20, where rebels endured a heavy assault in spite of the government's ceasefire announcement a day before. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

KIA soldier hides in the trenches at Hkaya Bum outpost on Jan. 20, where rebels endured a heavy assault in spite of the government’s ceasefire announcement a day before. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

Burma’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday rebuked a critical US Embassy statement on the ongoing Kachin conflict, saying that it “strongly objects and rejects” the Embassy’s remarks on the war. It also took issue with the US Embassy for continuing to call the country Burma and not Myanmar, as the government prefers.

On Thursday, the US Embassy in Rangoon said it was “deeply concerned” about the Kachin conflict and noted that despite a government announcement of a unilateral ceasefire on Jan. 19 “media and NGO reports indicate that the Burmese Army continues a military offensive” against Kachin rebels near Laiza.

The Embassy called for ceasefire talks and for UN access to displaced Kachin civilians.

The Burmese Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar on Saturday that it “strongly objects and rejects” the conclusion that the Burmese army had continued its offensive after Jan. 19.

It said the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) had been to solely to blame for the violence, as the Burmese army had laid down its weapons after Jan. 19 but was forced to react militarily against unrelenting KIA guerrilla attacks.

“The [US] press release could cause misunderstanding in the international community as it … elaborates the events as if only the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw launched the offensive,” the ministry said, adding that the KIA had also failed to respond to government invitations to hold peace talks.

On Jan. 19, one day before the government was scheduled to meet with foreign donor countries, Naypyidaw announced a unilateral ceasefire. However, on Jan. 20 and 21, The Irrawaddy observed repeated government attacks on a KIA-held mountaintop post.

Fighting between the Burmese army and the KIA began in June 2011 and escalated in late December, when the government began launching airstrikes on the lightly armed rebels.

The Burmese Foreign Ministry on Saturday also criticized the US Embassy’s use of the name Burma, saying the government “strongly objects the usage of the words ‘Burma’, ‘Burmese government’ and ‘Burmese Army’.”

Burma’s former military government renamed the country Myanmar soon after it seized power in 1988, but did so without consulting the population. For this reason, the US and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi mostly continue to call the country Burma.

8 Responses to Burma Hits Back at US Criticism of Kachin Conflict

  1. The term ” Burma ” still sounds better and familiar, if the government of Burma likes the country to be called Myanmar, then the people of Burma and the language of Burma should be Myanmarese or Myanmanese or something like that. Everything country has its own name in English term and its own language term, Burma was colonized by The Great Britain and the country was named Burma in English not in Myanmarese and it should always be BURMA NOT MYANMAR in terms of English.

    • Mya,
      I agree with you. Idiot generals try to invent their own English like “Myanmars”. What is that. If Myanmar is the name of the country, Myanmarese might be a suitable word for Myanmar’s people or Myanmar’s language. The generals need to rewrite their own Dictionary.

    • Excuse me, only people who had graduated from the Myanmar government schools would say that “If Burma was changed to Myanmar, the language and the people will be Myanmarmese, Myanmarese or Myanmanese..”! The word Myanmar was the real name, but when the British took over, they could not pronounce it clearly, and that was why the country’s name was changed to Burma… Its a complete insult to the nationalities… The glorious name of a country with a prideful meaning was changed into a meaningless word just because they can’t pronounce it… So, yes the international communities should respect the wish of our government to change the name Burma into Myanmar… And Miss please reread our history and see it for yourself whether our government has a right to change our country’s name… I don’t care whether Miss Aung San Suu Kyi call it Myanmar or Burma…

  2. Bruce Roberts,Chair CRDB (WA)

    The military junta have to keep the ethnic conflicts alive to use it as an excuse to hold on to power.The Kachins have had a ceasefire with the central government for a very long time.They arrogantly allowed the Chinese Government to build the Myitsone Dam against all opposition. They believe that the Burmese are a master race and as such must keep the Kachins well under control. The best way they know to control the situation is to eliminate the Kachins by bombing then out of existance. Most importantly,the junta with their “pretend” Parliment is controlled unopposed by military madmen.They won office by stealth and the sooner we have a free and fair election the truth will prevail.That is of course if the military allows the results to stand. There is of course the matter of crimes against humanity which must be resolved with charges being laid against The”hero” General Khin Nyunt and his perdecessors. The matter was pushed aside for the betterment of the country by the international community. The junta have the audacity to censure The USA for recognising the name Burma as the name Myanma is attributed to hiding the repression of the Burmese people by the likes of the madman General Ne Win and his succession of madmen who called themselves the Tatmadaw,who incidentally are supposed to protect all peoples that live in the country called Burma.Let the people decide on the name not military criminals.Maybe they should move to the domain of that other madman Assad or whatever he’s been called or the other maniac in North Korea who deliberately starves his people just to stay in power,He’s grear friends with the junta,as the saying goes”birds of a feather flock together”. History knows the Berlin Wall had to fall as a matter of time.Its high time the junta stop the murder immediately and let the people decide.

  3. The Kachins did not talk about ceasefire so they did not violate or break any promise or declaration. The Myanmarese junta is the one who said one thing today and doing different thing tomorrow. Shamelessly, the Myanmarese government rebukes the US government for condemning their assault on the Kachins. The Kachins are on their own lands. They have no place to withdraw. The Myanmarese troops need to withdraw because they are the ones who intruded the Kachinland. We do not need to pass kindergarten to understand who is right and who is wrong on this war. The Myanmarese are the aggressors. Period. Thein Sein must be charged for war crime and crimes against humanities.

  4. If you seize a bone from the dog’ mouth, it will certainly bite you. The military regime enjoys living in lawlessness. Even if every rebel groups in Burma accept military peace talk, the regime should resort to other way of igniting killing field as they can’t live in peaceful society anymore. They are possessed wholly by evils. The democracy they introduce is just painted on the cover but rotten wholly inside with the same load of dump generals. The Myanmarese military regime has been torturing and cheating it own people for 48 years ( 1962-2010 ) and now cheating the wholly world again by impersonating themselves as democratic reformers for the past two years. The truth can not live in the heart of the wicked. The warring and killing of innocent civilians doesn’t surprise me anymore because the military regime are choking out the freedom they ostensibly consumed.

    What’s people’s freedom is the Myanmar military’s poison.

  5. Usage of the term “Myanmar” by someone not immediately identifying with the country’s government would show detachment from what is a name.

    One could then focus on shaping the underlying referent(s).

    I mean, why argue about Burma if arguing about Myanmar could be more effective?

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