UK Joins International Criticism of Kachin Conflict

KIA troops stand at attention during a military drill at a base in Kachin State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

KIA troops stand at attention during a military drill at a base in Kachin State. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

WASHINGTON—The United Kingdom on Thursday joined the growing chorus of international criticism of the escalating conflict between the Burmese army and Kachin rebels, saying it was “deeply concerned” about the fighting. It called on both parties to open peace negotiations and appealed to the Burmese military to “heed their President’s calls for an end to hostilities.”

In a statement, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire expressed dismay at the ongoing violence in northern Kachin State, which has pressured rebel forces and displaced tens of thousands of villagers.

“I am deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict between the Burmese Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Burma’s Kachin State, including recent reports of air strikes in the state. An escalation in hostilities would put at risk the chance of a lasting peace in Burma,” he said.

“It is important that all sides, including the KIA, come to the negotiating table and make renewed efforts to work towards lasting peace,” the minister said.

On Wednesday, the United State and the United Nations had also urged the warring parties to end their fighting and open a dialogue. The US has said it would formally express concern with the Burmese government over army airstrikes against Kachin rebels—attacks that were confirmed by government officials.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Thursday that the US was having “conversations in Naypyidaw and in Rangoon, trying to get a little bit more clarity on exactly what’s going on because there have also been conflicting statements from the government and the military with regard to what’s going on.”

“But our view is that all sides need to cease and desist and get into dialogue with each other,” she added.

There have been doubts over just how much influence Burma’s President Thein Sein has over the country’s powerful military, which has fought wars with ethnic rebel groups for decades and ruled Burma until recent reforms began.

The UK Foreign Office addressed these concerns and stressed that the Burmese military should follow Thein Sein’s orders and its role within the country should be “normalized.”

“It is imperative that military commanders in Burma heed their President’s calls for an end to hostilities,” Minister Swire said.

“During my meetings with the Burmese government I highlighted the importance of normalizing the role of the Burmese military. Lasting democratic reform in Burma will not be successful unless they come under the direct authority of the Burmese government,” he added.

Swire also stressed “the importance of allowing the unhindered supply of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” adding that Britain pledged US $5.7 million in humanitarian food aid for civilians displaced by fighting across Kachin State, including in non-government controlled areas.

About 75,000 IDPs in Kachin State remain without international aid as the Burmese government had blocked UN access to the region.

13 Responses to UK Joins International Criticism of Kachin Conflict

  1. Where they are fighting? it is Kachin Soil, they are fighting the locations very close to the Kachins Head Quarter, not in the Kachin Burmese border or inside Burma. It is very clear that who is war monger, it is the Government troops started this war and intruding to Kachin. The former Peace accord in 1994 just invited the Government troops to the door step of the Kachin head quarter free, easy access, KIA is now facing the serious consequences of the peace accord which is now seems to squeeze their necks and already pushed them to the tight corner. Without withdrawal of the Government troops from the KIA control areas, no ceasefire, no peace talk, as it will only serve the Government troops for the Final Elimination of the Kachins. Only Grabbing guns tightly and shoot constantly will save the Kachins at this Stage, International communities must understand this situation.

  2. The international communities should be realized by now that Myanmar is still under the full control of military regime which is acting in accordance with the command ( behind the curtain ) of dictator Senior General Than Shwe. President Thein Sein is lack of power to act against the Generals lead by the commander in chief General Min Aung Hlaing who was hand picked by the Senior General himself.

    • Both Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing need to face tribunal court in The Hague for War Crimes.

    • All Myanmar citizens both in the country and abroad must also realise that who are heavily influenced the conflicts between the government and the rebelling groups, who provided the ammunition to them and creating instability of this country. It is easy to point the finger to anyone but think logically. Look around the globe what is happening. They are everywhere creating problems one after another for years. Learn history before making comments over one tunnel only.

  3. Dear Readers!
    KIO and KIA was founded to resist the Burman hegemony and superiority. They asked for equality and self determination among the union. Their propaganda machine said they are only fighting because the Kachins are suffering from inequality and suppression from the Burmese. But what really happened. Look back to their 43 years of resistance and what are the outcome. Starting from formation of KIA, the strategy and KIA use were very brutal and narrow minded. Claiming that they were resisting the Burman hegemony, they themselves act like superior being among the ethnic people in Kachin states. Even in the KIA ranks, only the Jingphaw Kachin can go up to the higher ranks. Even closer cousin like Lishaw and Lisu were not allow to serve in higher ranks. For the Shans ethnic, formation of KIA was the starting of their 43 years long nightmare in Kachin state. When Shans refuse to co operate with KIA, KIA punished them by burning the whole villages, torturing Shan elders and raping shan girls as young as 8 years old. In the Mogaung and Monyin area, the KIA brutality force the ethnic Shans to form local militia backed by the government. But majority of Shans in the other part of Kachin state has no choice but to follow KIA. Remember our Shans are the second largest in the union and second largest ethnic in Kachin state. But being a peaceful people we were cordial enough to forgive KIA. We ourselves as Shans see ordinary Kachins as our own brothers. And never took revenge on the ordinary Kachins.
    But the latest developments in Kachin state in forcing Shans to their limits. In facts Shans elders in the KIA infested area are asking government to arm them so that they can fight with KIA. For us Shans in Kachin state even KIA win the battle and establish Kachin state, we will suffer because of the KIA brutality and Kachin hegemony. So we will have no choice but to establish our own army to defend ourselves. Therefore for the part of KIA, forget about Burman hegemony and superiority, please take a look at how our Shans are suffering in Kachin state because of KIA hegemony. If KIA want equality and self determination and if KIA want to get treated like equal one, please treat other ethnic in the Kachin state equally first. Otherwise you are the same evil as you suppose to resist. For our Shans, our patients are running thin. We just don’t want to be the grass between two fighting bull. But we are human being too. We really wish to live peacefully among the union and still see normal Kachins as our brothers. Otherwise in the long term it will be Shan Vs Kachin instead of KIA Vs Burmese army. I am sure that nobody want to fight especially among our brothers. Therefore I beg you KIA and KIO, please come to government initiated peace negotiation as soon as possible. This is the best time in the history of our union. I really wish we can honestly talk to each other and resolve our differences. Even old die hard KNU and our SSA are talking to the government. When everybody willing to come to negotiation, why are KIA refusing? Is there any hidden agenda among the KIA elite? The hsitory will tell who is the villain. I really cried for every one dying due to these infighting. Stop fighting and please come to negotiation table our brothers.May peace be upon Kachin land and god bless you.
    **Author is a Shan ehtnic from Mogaung, Kachin state,who is working as an Engineer in overseas, and Irrawaddy please don’t edit my comments.***

  4. Dear Shwe Linyone!
    I am really sorry to see your comments that you seems to think the suffering of ethnic Shans in Kachin state as a joke. It has been long overdue issue that the outside world doesn’t know anything about the plight of ethnic Shans in Kachin state. I am not saying that burmese army is good . If the burmese army is an evil for the people of Kachin state,then the KIA is as same evil as burmese army. Or may be they are worse.The burmese army still face international criticism and political pressure but KIA seems to get clean hands on their crimes. I am really surprise to see nobody is condemning the bombings and killings of KIA. Narrow minded KIA always choose to kill or torture other ethnic especially Bamar and Shans. In facts countless crimes has been commited by KIA and many innocent people had been suffered. Whatever it is, it will be just a matter of time when we Shans will hit back who ever hit us. It is not too late for KIA to change their attitude towards other ethnic in Kachin state. KIA seems to think that Kachin state is their legitimate ancestoral land and they are allow to do whatever they want in the Kachin state. In fact our Shans have longer history and more legitimate claim on more than half of the Kachin state. A lot of Shans land has gone to kachin state just because of some stupid political agenda. Most of the town names and river were Shan name. Honestly Kachin only belongs to northen tip of the today Kachin state.If I have to go on it will become long endless story. But in reality we Shans want to live peacefully side by side with other ethnic in the kachin state. We still see other ethnic as our own brothers and sisters. We have been living peacefully side by side for centuries. Just because of these terrorist KIA, we cant allow us to hate our ordinary Kachin brothers and sisters. Hopefully we still can live peacefully with our Kachin brothers and sisters. May peace be upon Kachin land and god bless you.

  5. i have a dream, one day our loving brother Kachin will overcome this war and they will be judge by their own right given by God not by Burmese,God bless Kachin people ,land,,,,

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