Road to Kachin Peace is Long and Rocky, Observers Say

Kachin soldiers carry the body of one of their comrades after an aerial bombardment destroyed a bunker where four KIA soldiers had taken shelter during fighting. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

Independent Burma observers expressed concern about the ongoing Kachin conflict at a meeting at Chiang Mai University, Thailand, on Friday and many doubted that the government was committed to achieving peace with the ethnic Kachin rebels any time soon.

Guy Horton, a research fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, said the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) had been singled out as a target by Burma’s military because of the group’s persistent demands for political autonomy through the creation of a federal Kachin State.

According to Horton, Burma’s former military supremo “Than Shwe said in mid-2009 that they [the KIO] don’t agree to our terms. And so, we must fight against them.”

He warned that if Burma’s military would try to crush remaining Kachin rebel strongholds in Laiza and Majayang the war could escalate even further, as the rebels could deploy many more Kachin civilians who had received military training.

“It would be a blood bath if they attack Majayang and Laiza,”Horton said in a conversation on the sidelines of a public forum on the Kachin conflict.

The KIO and the government have been involved in a bloody war in Kachin State since June 2011, when a 17-year-old truce broke down. Since December, the war has escalated as the government deployed heavy artillery and air strikes against the rebels.

The KIO’s headquarters in Laiza, a town on the Burma-China border, was surrounded by late January and on Feb. 4 both sides met in the Chinese city Ruili where they began ceasefire discussions.

The government’s chief peace negotiator Aung Min is due to meet with KIO leaders and the United Nationalities Federal Council—an alliance of Burma’s 11 ethnic militias—in Chiang Mai on Feb.20.

Many of the assembled Burma analysts believed however, that a permanent solution to conflict would remain elusive as the KIO’s political demands—federal autonomy and enshrining ethnic groups’ rights in the Constitution—would be unacceptable to the Burmese government.

“The government wants peace on its own terms only, i.e. basically surrender and accept the 2008 Constitution, which is neither democratic nor federal in character,” said Bertil Lintner, a veteran Swedish journalist and Burma expert.

According to Lintner, the government had made detailed plans to attack the Kachin rebels and reduce their influence in northern Burma. “The current offensive against the KIA … has been planned for a long time. At least half a year, with exercises and drills elsewhere in Burma,” he said.

Ryan Libre, an American photographer who has covered the Kachin conflict, said that despite the recent military gains by the Burmese government the KIO would not be easily defeated, as the rebels could regroup to continue low-intensity guerilla warfare. “I think there will not be an end to the fighting,” he added.


16 Responses to Road to Kachin Peace is Long and Rocky, Observers Say

  1. During Burma was democracy under U nu term, they try to eliminated by discouraging a person( for example :)If he or her was Chin ( zOCHIN) ethic nationalities , Chin suk, Chin poke That mean Chin smell bad , Chin is useless ( for example if one person is Zochin= Chin , Chin stupid , Chin was come from basket ( chin taung which mean basket made by bamboo . they did that way so that Chin people did not like them-self to be Chin ( Zochin) . They did Shan as Shan pee poke ( which mean Shan is like smell bean) so that ethic nationalities do not want to call them- self as they are and transformed them-self as Burmese. During Newin term, he try to have power based on Burmanization . But in reality the Bama people are cheated , the ethic nationalities are crushed, only a few military Juntas are live like a king family. The Burmese authorities who try to use Tha khin ko daw mhaing philosophy which say eliminate ethic nationalities by using various tactic come into Military families who do not mind student , civilian, even monk to kill for their status as king among the Burmese people. Under Military rule we all ( pure Burmese and all ethic nationalities ) are sold for slave for military where Burma did not have external treat but to build up military power in Burma. Until The Burmese them self find out that this military used the Takhinkodawhmaing idea for their military benefit, we will not have real justice, freedom , and nature right from creature . If the ethic nationalities propose ( in Theinsein meet ethic leaders)was not an option ,the NFC have to think about how to play for independent from Burma and asked international to recognized them as free country.Do not forget how southern and northern Sudan become. How East Ti more , Cypress become independent country. If we ethic nationalities offer them the best and if they do not want , let them their fate determined by them self. Do not care about people who proud of cheating people.all they have is gun, not brain and intelligence.

    • If Takhinkodawmaing idea is terribly bad on ethnics, he is not the hero what we think when i was young. From my understanding , he is the hero of Burmese independence. Now, i realizes he is the hero of bama independence.

      • Dear Norman Hla, I never heard or read about Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing’s writing or talking about eliminating minority Burmese ethnics’ identity in my life.
        As I read about Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing was, he tried to reconcile between Burmese ethnic armed groups, Communist and central Government. Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing was nationalist and pioneer of peace movement in Burma.
        I’m not sure where Ko Salai Tin Mawng Oo II heard about it.
        If he has Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing’s book which included words of Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Maing “eliminate ethic nationalities by using various tactic” and then I really wanted to read with my eyes. It will be very interesting about Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing.
        He was awarded Stalin Peace Prize and Honorary Doctorate by University of Hamburg, West Germany. If he speak out or write like eliminating minority Burmese ethnics’ identity by using various tactic and then there’s no way he will be awarded Peace Prize and Honorary Doctorate degree from International organizations.
        He committed his life for Peace and Reconciliation between Burmese different armed groups and central Government since civil war broke out after Burma got Independent.
        Dear Hla, believe what you see and what you read but not by hear say.
        I must suggest “Irrawaddy” should research about what actually Saya Gyi Thakhin Kodaw Mhaing said about minority Burmese ethnics.

  2. As long as the political dialogue is held, there is no way the rebellion will end. Occupying Laiza will not solve the problem. As long as the Kachin people exist, fighting will still exist. Conventional warfare is not the only mean to fight. There are many other ways the Kachins can use to keep fighting. Human spirit is the base of warfare, not weapons or buildings. The are Kachins in Burma, China and India. There is no way they can be wiped out from standing for democracy. Burmese junta is the one which will lose more especially in the international community. Solving the problem on the table is the best way to bring peace in the Union.

  3. Dear Salai Tin Mawng Oo II, I didn’t hear about adult talking about Chin Soak, Chin Poke but may be children have use it for nature of child who want to win over other children.
    I do hear about peoples teasing to Chin about their honest and plain nature. It’s “Chin Shwe Ya Tha-lo” (“like Chin got gold”). He doesn’t know what to do with Gold when Chin got Gold because Chin peoples are living in honest and simple life style. Please, don’t be upset about child talk. Yes, most of all ethnics said Shan Pe-Poke but we are proud of it because Pe-Poke is our favorite national food.
    Please, just laugh at them.
    “Tha khin ko daw mhaing philosophy which say eliminate ethic nationalities by using various tactics”
    I’m not sure Sayagyi Thakhin Ko Daw Mhaing had said about eliminating minority ethnics identity. In my believe Sayagi Thakhin Ko Daw Hmain will never write or talk such as evil suggestion.
    I have had heard many rumor, wrong quotation and wrong information about our Burmese leaders from uneducated and rumor loving some of our elders time to time.
    You will clearly understand what truth is and what not truth is when you become grow up and educated person.
    Under 2 former military regimes, Shan state had divided into 3 states Shan state, United Wa State or Wa Autonomy state and Kokang Autonomy state. it result of previous Ne Win’s dictatorship regime and corrupted another former dictator Than Shwe’ quick fix formula.
    I hope dividing in Shan state will be short live rather than permanent.
    There should be no autonomy state within Union of Burma.
    Peoples must understand about differences between creating of Autonomy State and Federation system.
    If there’s some ethnics’ group had asked for Autonomy state and then it shouldn’t be granted because the armed organization doesn’t represent for all its’ peoples.
    Also believe Wa and Kokang autonomy will be sorting out after permanent peace agreement and reconciliation was achieved between Government and minority ethnics’ group.
    KIA leader and Government should be seriously negotiated about permanent truce first. To maintain truce, both sides should exchange observers at frontier and develop direct communication between both sides’ military leaders.
    There’s no easy fast track solution for true peace and reconciliation between central Government and minority ethnics’ armed group. Both sides need patient, understanding and trust. All minority ethnics’ leader and Central Government they have obligation to achieve Peace and Reconciliation among the all Burmese ethnics for sake of their own peoples.
    By the way, Salai Tin Mawng Oo II ethnic identity and their history can not be erased by anyone and it’s their duty to maintain history, culture, custom, religion and language for their future generation.

    • I hope the junta does not farther chip off Pa-O state and Palaung state out of Shan State. Shan State’s affairs must be discussed and handled by the people(s) who live in Shan State, not by the Burmese junta from Nay Pyi Taw. “Divide and Rule” keeps happening and sickening.

      • Hi L.D, If you give Autonomy state to majority ethnic group and then minority ethnics’ group in the state will demand their fair share their own autonomy states in autonomy state. On the other hand, state like Karen will get ready make civil war between KNU and DKBA or divide into two Karen autonomy states.
        The leaders who asked for Autonomy state needs to check how many ethnics are living in their state and how many ethnics group have army.
        No silver bullet for reconciliation between among the Burmese ethnics.
        We need to patient and wait for full development of Federation.
        Current, quasi President U Thein Sein led Burmese Quasi-Government’s Federation system is not representing for minority ethnics in their own state.
        I believe next 2015 general election is answer for all Burmese ethnics but the election must be free and fair.
        After that, Burma needs to write new constitution leading by wining party and representatives from all Burmese ethnics.
        I must pray for no farther autonomy states in Shan State everyday from now on.

  4. Sai LK wrote “There should be no autonomy state within Union of Burma.

    Peoples must understand about differences between creating of Autonomy State and Federation system.
    If there’s some ethnics’ group had asked for Autonomy state and then it shouldn’t be granted because the armed organization doesn’t represent for all its’ peoples.”
    The questions to Sai are:
    (1) Do the bama U nu and all bama military thugs honor the panglong agreement until now? In panglong agreement , is there any offering ethnic right for autonomy in Union of Burma? If so, what is the compensation for this unethical behavior from Bama government sides?
    (2) Sai should explain that why all ethnics should not have autonomy with reasons.
    (3) Sai should explain with evidence that why the ethnic armed organization doesn’t represent for all its’ people? From my understanding , all ethnic armed organization exit before Aung San’s bama army. Aung san army , under the control of japan army was formed from the 1000 convicts from Thailand’s prison ( Reference: Swiss writer).
    (4) In Panglong agreement , it wrote that (V) Though the Governor’s Executive Council will be augmented as agreed above, it will not operate in respect of the Frontier Areas in any manner which would deprive any portion of these Areas of the autonomy which it now enjoys in internal administration. Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas is accepted in principle.
    The agreement accepted “Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas” in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly. It continued the financial relations established between the Shan states and the Burmese federal government, and envisioned similar arrangements for the Kachin Hills and the Chin Hills.
    Sai LK should read the above carefully and reply to us because Sai does not want to honor panglong agreement initiated by Aung san. However, Sai said Aung san is the hero for Burmese independence.

    • Dear Hla, if you talk about Panlong Agreement and then the agreement was signed by a few ethnic groups which even Karen, Rakhine and other minority ethnics’ representatives did not participate or include in Panlong conference. Do you know why?
      That’s British Colony Government did not want to give Independent and tried to divide among the Burmese ethnics.
      I’ll say Panlong Agreement was used as tool for both Burmese and British sides that time.
      That’s why Daw Aung San Su Kyi has calling for second Panlong Conference to held in future.
      Dear Hla, you must understand about differences between Federation system and Autonomy systems.
      Kachin, Chin, Karen and Shan states are landlocked states and they have limited resources in their own state. Rakhine, Mon and Bamar have access to sea, fertile farm land, Oil, Gas, natural resources, forest, major logistic and communication.
      Also Federation system will give State Government for to control over its own state affairs and all Burmese ethnics can live as one country. Under Federation System, minority ethnics will have self-governing state and all Burmese ethnics’ people who are living in that state will have their right equally with majority ethnic in the state.
      Creating of Autonomy state will be leading to declare Independent Country. Also Autonomy state will get only limited help from central Government.
      Currently, states’ Government is filling with ex serviceman and we have to wait until next election. Ethnic Government will control its own state affair after its own ethnic party was elected to govern their own state. You need to wait and patient for to see fully develop Federation system.
      Wa Autonomy State and Kokang Autonomy State will not be last forever whoever becoming Government. Now Shan state has two Autonomy States. I’m sure Palaung, Padaung, Pa O, La Wa, Intha and other ethnics will want their Autonomy State too.
      I have read some news about KIA wanted autonomy for Kachin State like what Wa and Kokang enjoy today. The reason for given autonomy to Wa is eliminating Communist problem and quick fixing. I’m sure Army will fix it later. The generations of Kokang leaders are Generals’ crony and they are fund raisers for Army Commanders in Shan state and Army Generals.
      Not only Kachin ethnic is living in Kachin State. There’s Rawang, Lisu, Khanti Shan, Shan and other ethnics are living in Kachin State as well.
      Look at your own Karen ethnic, Karen ethnic living in Irrawaddy Division, Mon State, Thaninthari Division and all over the Burma.
      You should check about how many native ethnics are living in within Karen State.
      How many Autonomy States Burma will have if you given Autonomy State to each Burmese Ethnics?
      There will be civil war within Autonomy State if you give Autonomy to major ethnics in Burma.
      Not all minority ethnics’ peoples are supporting their ethnic Army. If you look at your Karen Armed Groups and then you can see divided to two Karen Armed Groups and they fight each other.
      So Karen state will be divided to at least 2 Autonomy States or will have instant civil war in Karen Autonomy state.
      Karen got army only after Burma was given Independent because some of British officials created Karen Armed group for their sake. Karen, Chin and Karen are not like Rakhine, Shan and Mon. Shan, Rakhine and Mon have their own army and kingdom.
      You can not say Karen, Chin and Kachin have own army because of Chin Riffle Battalion or Karen infantry Battalion or whatever battalion was created under British Colony Government. Those battalions are not their own army.
      I don’t know about BIA was found with 1000 Burmese convicts from Thai prison. I only read about BIA was found with Burmese ethnics who live in Thailand at Thai Burma border.
      Could you give me a link to the website? So I can look at that record.
      Panlong Agreement does not standing for all Burmese ethnics. It’s incomplete agreement between central Government and minority ethnics’ group.
      If you’re asking Autonomy State for Karen base on Panlong Agreement and then Burmese Government will reply you, you Karen didn’t sign it. So you don’t get Autonomous state for Karen peoples. Please, don’t be upset about it but this is logical answer to your question.
      I think Panlong Agreement is incomplete agreement. We need another conference similar to Panlong conference with representative from all Burmese Ethnics and decide country future.
      Please, kindly note I’m absolutely no one and I’m not qualify spoke person for any ethnic. So don’t take serious about my comment.

      • Sai LK wrote that “I think Panlong Agreement is incomplete agreement. ” “I’ll say Panlong Agreement was used as tool for both Burmese and British sides that time.”
        Questions: Above are the Sai LK’s view very clearly. Does Sai dare to say the above are the Aung San’s view upon both British colony and all ethnics? I am sure that Sai LK can not answer this questions with evidence, document and references. If it was Aung san’s strategy, Aung san was and is a cheater and tricky person on all ethnics signed in panglong agreement.
        British colony did not trust Aung san at that time because of his (Aung san) disloyal strategy. Aung san’s bama army was accused of karen ethnic cleansing from UK present news so Karen would not sign Panglong agreement, initiated by Aung san. Karen was expecting own autonomy or right from British colony’s arrangement which karen trusted. However, British colony had no power or no interest to do so good for Karen(dumping Karen). Karen army went back their lands for their own survival. In history , karen had no intention to occupy Rangoon except self-defense fighting. How can you ( sai) say that British colony wanted to influence Burma again with the strategy of divide and rule after offering Burmese independence?.
        Above might be the only reason that some ethnics did not sign panglong agreement ( did not trust Aung san as well as bama politicians). In the retrospect study, IT world knows and knew how all bama governments bully and bullied all ethnics in history as you have already admitted those facts. If so, why do you still fully support bama military thugs’ current strategy, like Joseph Stalin. Salai tin maung Oo said about the Joseph Stalin peace strategy in which bama military thugs clean the all feathers of chicken ( Kachin ) in order to surrender or forceful second panglong agreement under than shwe psychological dream strategy ( actually outdated one). Than shwe is copying Chinese former leader Jiang Zemin to control the bama military to suppress and kill all ethnics for expecting to become bama national hero to surpass Aung san. Very soon , than shwe will know that he must pay the price for his crime against humanity because China is changing rapidly now.
        To persuade Kachin to get peace from autonomy or federalism, stop killing Kachin first ( do not make Kachin to be a featherless chicken). In addition, bama government must declare that autonomy or federalism will be discussed seriously. Panglong agreement is the world well known legal contract whatever it is so the change of contract ( second panglong agreement ), can not be from bama side , including DASSK now from the ethical point of view. The change is only from the agreement of ethnic sides now. It is not the excuse for killing Kachin. Very very few featherless Kachin or other ethnics will surrender you that they will not support their army. In nature, Kachin are brave so they will not knee down you easily. Than shwe might threat or convince DASSK for introducing second panglong agreement with the story of featherless chicken in the exchange of promise of next bama president for DASSK. It is the “double win” for than shwe to be a bama national hero so as than shwe can escape from his serious crime against humanity ( including killing monks).
        I have gave the website ( Swiss writer) about the origin of Aung san’s army from Thailand prison in Irrawady forum ( one reply section). All know that all ethnics have their own armies respectively before British colony occupation ( common sense) . However, i am 100% sure all bama military thugs are not democratically elected ones so they are not Burmese army. The current bama army is than shwe’s private army. The only way to persuade Kachin to meet at the table is “stop killing Kachin”. Don’t say second Panglong. Don’t keep silent. Address Kachin and all ethnics’ issue fairly and squarely with the civilized manner. Because of arrogant of Chinese former leader Jiang Zemin ( military threat to Taiwanese) , all Taiwanese hates him and all supported and supports opposition party who made slogan of Taiwan independence to win election for 2 times. Taiwan is still going well from its own autonomy. Taiwan does not need federalism from future giant mainland China for the time being or as long as mainland China has not full democracy.
        In history , Burma has and had no neighbor countries’ threat all along so Burma does not need real army, like Japan. There is no threat from Muslim terrorist as well. Federalism is not crucial for Burma in general. China or US army will protect Burma for foreign invasion in any way because of their own interest respectively.

        • Dear Sai LK
          I do not see that Malaysia, India, Pakistan and etc were politically influenced by British colony after independence from British colony. You must thank British that Rangoon university is the first university in the Asia ( earlier than India, Singapore, Hong Kong),opened by the British colony.
          Therefore , many graduates from Rangoon university could flee to oversea for survival after bama military thugs’ rule because of worldwide recognition, particularly from influence of UK even after independence.

          • Dear Sai LK
            Don’t try to clean the feather of all ethnics, particularly brave Kachin to become featherless Kachin from the teaching of Joseph Stalin peace strategy ,copied by than shwe with his outdated psychological knowledge. Most ethnics, particularly Kachin, Shan and Karen are look like neigbour Chinese. Karen did not sign tricky and rubbish Panglong agreement ( it is your interpretation upon Panglong agreement) so karen has a right to be stick to anybody ( rich China or sympathetic Thailand) whatever reason and whenever Karen like. All major ethnics look like Chinese will become federalism with rich mainland China, instead of arrogant than shwe if they become featherless chicken , manipulated by than shwe. If all ethnics are forced to be federalism or second panglong agreement by than shwe, it is the dream from bama than shwe in this century. It will not long lasting forever. All ethnics have right to vote for their future as well.
            All contracts are fair and square in general and in law so you can not say all ethnics are naive to sign the panglong agreement. You can not say Panglong agreement is incomplete one as it states clearly in English that there is a autonomy right in ethnics. Bama side has now no bargaining power from the private army of arrogant than shwe. See the example of rich Syria eruption because the war is from the initiation of people power upon the unfairness. If than shwe wants his life for forgiveness as well as DASSK wants to be next president of Burma , please, act and talk fairly with the civilized and ethical manner to accept the true facts in the dynamic IT world. Don’t say Panglong agreement is rubbish or the trick from Aung san on ethnics. Don’t say Panglong agreement is rubbish so than shwe has a right to kill Kachin. If so, Kachin has a right to sell their land to rich China, instead of dying ( becoming featherless chicken) in the hand of than shwe’s private bama army. DASSK must clearly state that what is the difference between first and second panglong agreement. The history of panglong agreement is very clear from now and then. DASSK must born in mind that the 40% of population are ethnics and damage has already seriously done on all ethnics by bama military thugs. All ethnics also love their own armies respectively. If DASSK loves than shwe’s private army, all ethnics will have a lot of questions on her second panglong agreement ( ?more tricky than Aung san’s one).

  5. Mr. Sai Lin Kan.
    First of all, I appreciated you mention ( v) panglong agreements .But I wonder why you referred Burma military government as central government ? Central government should be composed of Burma, and ethic nationalities combine . I know Takhin kodawhmaing was awarded Stalin peace prize and honorary doctorate by University of Hamburg . But you have to know that what kind of peace is referred by Stalin. ( he take live chicken in front of his subordinated leaders in Russia and take off all the feather from the chicken and let the chicken run, but the chicken came under his leg because it do not have nowhere to go for warm and he say if you let people with no feather , they will come back to you) I hope you figured out why thakhinkodawhmaing got Stalin Peace prize.( the same thinking ). Do not forget peace have go with harmony. You said some one will know the truth after he or she become grow up and educated person. What is your education?, I am doctorate of business administration in organization leadership but never stop learning. Are you really sure what is autonomy state and Federation system?. Are you really Shan nationalist? You and I have common ground which is each nationalities suppose got their fair share.

  6. Dear Salai Tin Mawng Oo II,
    Honestly, I never heard and never read about it.
    “( he take live chicken in front of his subordinated leaders in Russia and take off all the feather from the chicken and let the chicken run, but the chicken came under his leg because it do not have nowhere to go for warm and he say if you let people with no feather , they will come back to you)”.
    I’ll take note but I’ll let Historians to find out true character of Saya Gyi Thakin Kodaw Mhaing.
    If it was true as you said and Saya Gyi Thakin Kodaw Mhaing is really cruel and very bad person. I’m really sorry for poor naked Chicken.
    Thank you very much for such as information about Saya Gyi Thakin Kodaw Mhaing.
    By the way, if you kindly give me book name you read about Saya Gyi Thakin Kodaw Mhaing and then I’ll be very much appreciated for your kindness.

  7. Road to Kachin Peace is Long and Rocky, as long as the Kachins act as a proxy army for the Chinese and think that guerrilla war fare is the answer to their ethnic identity and freedom – dream on; power does not come from the barrel of a gun, but from the negotiating table; yes the pen is still mightier than the sword.

  8. Dear shwe moe
    I would like to learn how to overcome the guns from than shwe and ming aung laing by your pen or sword or guns. Do you want to say the gun from Kachin is weaker than than shwe’s private bama army? However, you said that Kachin is the proxy of China’s gun.
    If Kachin acts as proxy for Chinese, Kachin can wipe out Bama army within hours.
    In history, most ethnics and Chinese nationalist armies were in the frontiers for fighting brave Japanese army, particularly in crucial battles for Burmese independence , not by US & British and bama army. Please, also learn how brave Japanese army easily defected world famous arrogant British army during WW2 in Singapore. Kachin is the only army to conquer Japanese army in history. If you do not trust it , ask UK historians.

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