After A Week of Airstrikes, Kachin Fighting Rages On

One of the Burmese military helicopters used in an attack in Kachin State on Dec 28. (Photo: John Sanlin / The Irrawaddy)

The Burmese government army conducted heavy airstrikes on Kachin rebel positions near the insurgents’ base in Laiza for the seventh consecutive day on Thursday, but on Friday no more airstrikes were reported, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) sources said.

According to the KIA however, the fighting on the ground continued to intensify in Burma’s mountains northern region.

Hla Seng, a spokesperson for the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), a rebel group that fights alongside the KIA, said the insurgents sustained fierce attacks from the air in multiple areas on Thursday. He added that government forces seemed to scale-up their assault.

“The fighting is getting bigger,” he told The Irrawaddy on Friday. “They used two fighter jets yesterday and [the jets] seemed bigger and faster than before. They dropped bombs and rockets in [the areas of] Lajayang, Namsam Yang and around KIA’s headquarters in Laiza, on the Sino-Burma border.”

But ABSDF Major Min Htay, who is stationed near Laiza, said Friday had passed without any further aerial attacks by the government. “We didn’t see any airstrikes today in the Lajayang area, but there is artillery shelling,” he said. It was the first full day without an air raid in the area in a week.

Min Htay said there had been clashes between ethnic rebels and government soldiers in other parts of Kachin State on Friday. “There is fighting in the KIA Brigade 3 area in northern Shan state” north of Lashio, he said. “I don’t know if the government used airplanes there.”

Since mid December, the Burmese military has launched heavy attacks on Kachin rebel positions, using helicopter gunships and later fighter jets. Its attacks have focused on the strategically important mountain area of Lajayang, from where its artillery could potentially shell KIA headquarters located near the Laiza, a town on the border with China.

The government initially denied using airstrikes but on Wednesday it acknowledged the attacks, adding that it had seized a hilltop position from Kachin rebels to protect supply lines. Burmese troops have now come within 10 kilometers of Laiza, where tens of thousands of refugees have also sought shelter.

Hla Seng said rebels believed that the Burmese military would continue to escalate the conflict until had it seized the Lajayang area in order to justify the heavy losses it sustained in recent weeks. “They are still reinforcing troops. It seems they will only heat up the battle as they have suffered a lot” already, he said.

The US, Britain and the UN expressed concerns over the escalating conflict this week—in particular over the use of airstrikes by the Burmese military. They urged the government and the KIA to end their fighting and open a dialogue.

The office of President Thein Sein issued a statement on Friday in which it defended the government’s military actions in Kachin State. It made no mention however, of the numerous airstrikes the army has launched.

“To ensure smooth transportation and peace and stability [in Kachin State], the government has taken military steps and defended its positions,” the statement said. “The government army has been careful not to launch a major offensive.”

In June 2011, a long-standing cease-fire between Kachin rebels and the government broke down and fighting erupted.

James Lun Dau, the Kachin Independence Organization’s deputy chief of foreign affairs, said on Friday that there had been about 2,000 armed clashes between the government and the KIA troops since June 2011. About 100,000 refugees on Sino-Burma border have been displaced by the conflict.


10 Responses to After A Week of Airstrikes, Kachin Fighting Rages On

  1. The Myanmar/Burma’s government is not defending themselves, infect they are invading the Kachin state and killing Kachin people by the airstrikes. The KIA is the one, who is defending their territory. At this time Myanmar/Burma’s government is not a legitimate government to deploy any troop in Kachin state until political solution become acceptable nationally by all people and ethnic groups in the country.
    Having Aung San Suu Kyi in the parliament is not a legitimate government. This is only a window dressing to cover up military government to continue doing what they have previously planned. Airstrikes in Kachin state but talk to other ethnic groups for ceasefire is purely military tactic to continue waging war in the country. This is not a step forward to democracy and equal rights for ethnic people.
    International community has experienced a great conflict of interest in this dirty military architect game now. Innocent civilian people in Kachin state will continue to be killed in this dirty game and conflict of interest. No moral responsibility is applied to safe the life of innocent Kachin children and women.
    Gaining control the whole world and losing soul is not the right lifestyle of human being. Let act to safe innocent children and women life in the war zones, where airstrikes have been taking place in Kachin state, northern Burma/Myanmar.
    God bless this universe.

    • I fully agree with you. Bama than shwe will try to wipe out brave Kachin army because than shwe is fear of Kachin strong fighting like Syria rebel. Than shwe knows idiot and unwise China and Russian will support him (than shwe) with their veto cards in UN. DASSK will be next bama president without military power , offered by than shwe because of all ethnic eruptions again and again and bamanization.

    • Invading? Be real my friend. Kachin state belongs to the Union of Myanmar. It is not a seperate souvereign state or territory belongs to a particular group of people who are influenced by outsiders and procolonialist rebels. The KIA is the one to blame causing their own people and innocents at risk by creating instability of the region. Every souvereign government has right to control law and order in any part of the country by any means. This has not just happened during this military government. It started since before independence. Ask KIA to abide by the law to avoid more damages and life of innocents and forget about former colonialist masters who only want to get hold of their power in the region.

      • Bill
        Study the following information , written by Salai Mang before you are surprise with the word of “Invading.” I would like you to know that Kachin has a right to get autonomy according to Panglong agreement. You must be aware and honor this agreement if you are a civilized Burmese. You should not manipulate or twist or amend this agreement, like idiot U Nu who smear the goodness of Buddhism with his Sh-t. I stress this fact because your name seems to be English one “Bill” without having any good meaning in Burmese. “Bill” in Burmese means you are out of date or out of boundary or out of the main road or being social outcast. You must honor the Panglong agreement for Kachin right of autonomy before writing any opinion on this current Kachin issue. One of meanings of autonomy is that “Autonomy is also used to refer to the self-government of the people.” After reading the true facts below, I just want you to give opinion with the name of “Not Bill”.
        Responses to Kachin Rebels Allege New Airstrikes by Burma Army in Irrawaddy.
        1. Salai Mang January 4, 2013 – 5:35 am
        How has the Kachin been betrayed by the Burman? In other words, what is at the heart of ethnic conflict between the Kachin (including all other ethnic groups in Burma) and the Burman?
        First, the Kachin were betrayed by the Burman when U Nu, a Burman nationalist, overturned the promise of the formation of genuine federal state, when he reversed the 1947 drafted constitution already approved by Aung San and Kachin leaders, and when he rewrote a unitary state constitution in betrayal of the basic principle of the historic Panglong agreement. Here the formation of federal democratic system is not merely the spirit of the Panglong agreement but also the most appropriate political choice for a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual country, like Burma. U Nu, however, took a unitary system, which is politically unwise, and his imprudent moves deeply angered the Kachin and all other ethnic groups. Mr. Chan Htoon, who advised those who drafted the new constitution, observed and simply acknowledged that, “Our constitution, though in theory federal, is in practice unitary.”
        Second, the Kachin were betrayed when U Nu administration reversed the policy of pure secular state, which is one of the main reasons for the Kachin when they joined the union, and began rather the policy of religious favoritism toward Buddhism, a religion the majority Burman practiced. Unlike Aung San, U Nu is a Buddhist nationalist, and his administration unnecessarily established a Ministry of Religious Affairs in 1950 to strengthen the ties between the state and the religion, Buddhism.Under his leadership, the state treasury has been appropriated for the furtherance of Buddhism, and laws have been passed to clarify its position and direct its activities. Moreover, the Sixth Buddhist
        Council, held from 1954 to 1956, which drew Buddhists from all over the world to Burma, was proposed and in part promoted by his administration, and the impressive set of buildings erected for the meetings and the World Peace Pagoda which stands nearby were paid for in large part by government funds.
        Third, Kachin language and history were taught in the schools in Kachin state in order for the younger generations to keep their own ethnic identities, and the Kachin were, therefore, promised to preserve, protect, and promote their culture, language, and religion when they voluntarily joined the union of Burma. In sharp contrast, Burma regime, then, prohibited the Kachin from learning their own language and history in the schools in the homeland of their ancestors, and Kachin language and history were replaced with Burman language and Burman history.It has increasingly become clear that instead of preserving, protecting, and promoting Kachin language, culture, history, and religion, the Kachin shall be Burmanized and Buddhitized.
        Fourth, Burma regime handed over 3 small areas, which belonged to Kachin homeland, to the Chinese without the knowledge and consent of the Kachin. When the Kachin found themselves in their homeland that there was truly an existential threat to their ethnic existence, U Nu further made Buddhism the state religion, escalating and even aggravating their frustration, intolerance, and anger. Thus, they deeply felt that they were treated as alien in their original homeland and that they must do all things necessary to protect their ethnic homeland and identities. It was indeed a time when Kachin nationalism reached its zenith, and they inevitably tended to begin Kachin revolution (KIA).
        All in all, the Burman leaders betrayed the Kachin, and as long as the Kachin and other ethnic groups are denied rights of equality, federal state, and self-determination (the principles of the historic Panglong Agreement), the civil war shall surely continue in Burma and there shall be neither permanent peace nor economic prosperity in the country. The KIA soldiers are freedom fighters. They do not forget the historical mandate for the Kachin that they shall not leave the fate of the Kachin in the hands of the Burman, and they shall fight until the end.

  2. Hatred and distrust are building higher and higher. The government might win the war but reconciliation in the hearts and souls must be jeopardized badly.

    • Who created these hatred and distrust? As long as the people have cleared their vision and mind on what they are doing there will be no more conflicts. Some single minded people don’t see it clear and pointing finger at other at fault. At least they should look at themselves what they can do to offer for the future betterment of this country.

      • Even DASSK is incapable to give opinions so she keeps silent on Kachin issue as well as all Burmese ethnics issues. How can you tell or be capable to have the “future betterment of this country” without any concrete evidence ( see current ways of handling and past bad history of all bama governments)?. Tell me more with evidences ( what , how , where and when) what will be our future and how good it is. I can tell you that there was the only best century in Burma during British colony rule as i heard it from the all old bama who named it “Khit-kong in Burmese. Bill, Are you bama or English? Don’t forget to read my opinion upon your comment “Invading”

  3. US, Britain and the UN are the very ones loudly cheering this murderous government along with their agent Aung San Suu Kyi.. Right?

    Now you are all in a pickle.

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Than Shwe’s GAME PLAN today is to BRING KIA to its KNEES at the EXPENSE of HEAVY LOSS of LIFE and LIVELIHOOD of the Kachin people ultimately of course.
    And the KIA is DETERMINED to WEATHER THE STORM at any cost and by all means/measures as well and evidenced today.
    Than Shwe and Min Aung Hlaing are STILL AT A LOSS (how) to RESOLVE the CONFLICT in a FAIR and ACCEPTABLE manner for both parties concerned as well.
    RESORTING to ARMS only WOULD NOT SETTLE the MATTER lest the lot at Naypyidaw forgets I say.
    And PROTECTING Chinese communists’ INTERESTS in MIND only on the part of Than Shwe and Min Aung Hlaing WILL CERTAINLY LAND THEM IN HOT WATERS/DEEP SHIT no less as well trust me.
    KIA has the BACKING of ALL PEOPLE and the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY as well at the moment.
    And Daw Suu has PUBLICLY SAID, she has NOT BEEN INVITED to PITCH IN HER PART in that MATTER (peace in Kachin State) by Naypyidaw until today though she has a DESIRE to DETERMINE the CAUSE and RESOLVE the ISSUE in a FAIR and JUST MANNER for that matter as well.
    Thein Sein immediately gave her the job of “SWEEPING the SEWAGE” at the Monywa Copper Mine Project if I remembered right.
    The WAR in Kachin State is NOTHING LESS THAN to ANNIHILATE THE KIA/KACHINS on the part of Than Shwe and Min Aung Hlaing UNDER ORDERS/OBLIGATION (Than Shwe was given 30 Billion Yuan by the Chinese communists in 2009 during his last visit to Beijing with his whole clan in tow) of the CHINESE WANTING A FREE HAND in Kachin land to RUN THEIR PROJECTS, RAILS, ROADS and PIPELINES and MEET THEIR DEADLINE in 2013 ONLY.

  5. I’m a Malaysian Chinese of Burma ancestry. My grandfather ran away from our homeland in Kokang during the war and he became a Malaysian in 1957 when Malaya got independence. So, my dad and I were born Malaysian.

    Frankly speaking, going back to Federal Union system and full adherence to the Panglong agreement is the only solution.

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