US Limits Criticism after Laiza Shelling

A relative holds the hand of the mortally-wounded Malang Yaw, while they wait to drive to the local hospital. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

WASHINGTON—The US government has stopped short of criticizing the Burmese government over its handling of the conflict with Kachin rebels in northern Burma, despite appeals by US Kachin groups and a Burmese military attack on Kachin civilians on Monday.

Instead, US officials emphasized the need for the Kachin to open political dialogue with the government in the same way that other ethnic “separatist areas” have done.

Last week, 23 US Kachin organizations sent an open letter to President Obama asking him to condemn the Burmese military’s use of airpower against the Kachin rebels, to reinstate US sanctions against the Burmese government, and to help guarantee the safety of thousands of displaced Kachin civilians.

The groups demonstrated at the US State Department on Saturday to highlight their demands.

US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing on Monday however, that the US would not reinstate sanctions in order to address the Kachin conflict.

“I don’t have any changes to US policy to announce,” she said, adding that the lifting of the sanctions earlier this year “was conditional on continued progress” by the Burmese government towards democracy and respect for human rights.

Fighting in Kachin State has intensified since December and the Burmese army has been launching airstrikes on Kachin rebel positions in an effort to conquer Laiza valley, where the rebel headquarters is located and where some 35,000 Kachin civilians are sheltering.

The Kachin rebels are demanding greater autonomy, basic rights and amendments of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

On Monday, reporters saw two artillery strikes by the Burmese army land in the center of Laiza. Three civilians, including a teenager, were killed, while four others were seriously injured.

Asked if the escalating Kachin conflict represented a step backward for the Burmese government Nuland said, “there’s been violence on and off in Kachin for a very, very long time.”

The State Department did not directly address Monday’s artillery strike by the Burmese army.

Instead Nuland said, “[I]n a number of these other separatist [ethnic] areas, the Government of Burma has had success in getting into a dialogue about grievances and working things out politically. That’s what we want to see in Kachin as well,” she said.

She added that the US was urging both parties to open political dialogue and had asked the Burmese government to stop blocking UN access to displaced Kachin civilians.

Britain on Monday expressed its concern about the Kachin conflict and the Burmese army’s use of heavy firepower near Laiza in strong terms.

“The British Government is deeply concerned by reports emerging from Kachin State of an escalation in hostilities, including the use of Burmese military helicopters and aircraft against Kachin Independence Army positions in areas around the state capital and Laiza,” Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt told British Parliament.

“These tactics represent a marked escalation, and pose a significant risk of civilian casualties,” he said, adding that, “The situation in Kachin is increasingly serious and could present a threat to wider reforms.”

Burt said Britain was encouraged by the recent political reforms under President Thein Sein but he added that “progress on ethnic reconciliation must remain the highest priority.”

He urged both sides open negotiations and for the Burmese government to allow UN access to the displaced Kachin.

44 Responses to US Limits Criticism after Laiza Shelling

  1. tatmadaw is killing civilians and using fighter jets against kachin positions and what does the US do? urge the KIA to enter peace talks… thats scandalous

    • Well what’s a little local difficulty like this to stop such detente and great business prospects, eh? Nuland even managed to imply that it’s the Kachin’s fault they are the odd one out when all the rest of the armed minorities have joined the ‘peace talks’. Wonderful coming from fellow American Baptists. Time the Kachin wised up to the stark reality of the universal bottom line in this US dominated New World Order.

  2. The mask has finally come off, and witness the long fangs they use to suck blood out of Vietnamese, afghani, Iraqi, Guatemalan, Haitian, et al. As long as it fits their geopolitical goals, they will turn blind eyes to any atrocities by themselves or by others. So much for democracy and human rights!

    • Thein Nget – You nailed it. The US government behavior abroad is not much different than China. The distinction is that the US’s government’s bad behavior can be curtailed if the American people demand it. Perhaps that should the center of focus when dealing with Uncle Sam.

      A Canadian

      • .Now you guys are turning your guns at your very own uncle Sam. First thing you all need to do is stop all violent movements against the sovereign government since the country got independence, laid down weapons and join in peace talk. Remember one thing, this land is not belongs to Kachin only, it belongs to everyone in Myanmar.

        • Burma got independence from Great Britain, not because the Burmese army was stronger than British army. It was time to give back independence to Burma. Arakan and Mon kingdoms deserve independence from Burma.

          • The world doesn’t work that way. If you look at most developed nations, their borders have changed over the past centuries, and now in many countries, there are groups wanting independence. But it doesn’t happen.

            In Spain, the Basque area have been fighting for independence for decades. There fighters have been labelled terrorists, arrested and put in prison.

            In Scotland – also an historical kingdom – some want independence and some don’t. They will have a vote in 2014 to decide what happens. They entered into political talks for years to get permission to have a vote.

            So the difference in these examples? In Spain, those in the Basque region have no choice – there will not be independence. Why? because they tried to get it by violent means. In Scotland though, the people will have a choice. They will vote. Remember, some Mon, and some Kachin will be very happy for their states to become part of a Republic of Myanmar, with state-level powers, like the federal system in the US.

            Main point though is that, as Bill said, you have independence now. It’s time to stop fighting and start talking – if not, the government will have every right – by international law – to use all of their weapons to make all armed groups stop.

  3. The Burmese Government’s Treatments to the different ethnic arm groups is not equal. If we Kachins are allowed to have the Autonomy Enjoy by the Wa, We may stop fighting. The treatment of the Burmese Government to Kachin is genocidal war. Since Kachins are the head of UNFC with a strong political objectives, the Government is wanting to eliminate KIA rather than to hold the meaningful talks, there may have a talk but only want this to happen under the intense Military pressure. Without the present of the Foreign Powers and Guarantee for Kachin Safety, We will never sign peace accord, we need to protect our peoples and yes we our own heads from this bizarre brutal barbaric State Sponsor Terrorists.

    • Now people are using a borrowing word “autonomy”. It was simply rebelling and terrorist attitude towards own people and the government since the independent. Not about Chinese or Wa. It happened long time before this military government. Everything was created by a group of stupid so called nationalists supported by the foreign elements. Open your eyes wider and look back into the history.

      • You just let us know that you are the one who is really blind. I would love to send you a copy of the Pang Long Agreement articles which clearly tells you make you understand the reasons why the Kachins are fighting for autonomy and federal state. They are not stupid in this fight but they are fighting for the real cause. You labeled the Kachins like traitors but your stepfathers were the ones who robbed from the Kachins. Khoe thu ma-shaet myin thu shaet.

  4. Your arm groups do not concern about the people in the refugee camps. Burmese people and NGOs only supporting them. What these arm groups do for Kachin people? I don’t know. Take tax from villagers, force them to serve them, kill own people, etc. If they really want peace for Kachin, they have to come out and talk with the Gov openly not only to the nation but to the world as well. Why they can’t do that? One sided judgement! None sense. Why other ethnic groups reached peace and why not Kachin still?

    • Violet, you clearly demonstrated that you have lived in a dungeon for way too long. Unlike your father’s army, KIA is feeding nearly all the IDP camps along the border, over 60,000 IDPs on a daily basis. I have never heard of Tatmadaw feeding food to its own solider on a regular basis, but it has done a good job in distributing meth and illicit drugs. KIO may not have done everything for Kachin people. KIA/KIO has only built most of the highways in Kachin states and the power plant which supply electricity to your Northern Commander Gen. Tun Tun Naung’s home. KIO has no tax to levy against villagers because they all had flee from your father’s army atrocities. They can talk for solution but KIO do not want to bullsh—-t around like your all tongue no action, Minister Aung Min. See, current ceasefire is selective: Wa army is no BGF and Wa has its own Special Administrative Region, DKBA is Boader Guard Force, KNU is not BGF but can sign ceasefire. Kachin can sign ceasefire so your farther’s army can buildup to prepare for larger assault. So, I say to you, you have to read more than The New Light of Myanmar. All right, child.

    • Is it? how about Burmese government that govern Burmese people? Aren’t these refugees fleeing government army?

    • I think you did not spell your name correctly. I thought your name was VIOLENT.

  5. The fight in the Kachin Land shows the insincerity of Thein Sein government in building genuine peace in Burma. The onslaught must stop right now. I have not heard Daw Aung San Suu Kyi public condemnation of the ongoing conflict and the government uses of excessive forces. You can’t talk peace with the Karen when you are killing the Kachin.

    • This is not the land belong to “Kachin” only. This belongs to the Union of Myanmar. Both leaders are not to blame. Your so called blind eyed leaders who think themselves the saviour of the tribe are to blame. They have pushing their own people to suffer and forcing women and children to stand in front line and yet they are nowhere near the battle field and enjoyed luxurious lives. If you want peace talk, lay down the weapons first.

      • You broke into someone else’s house and demand your host to share his belongings with you? How dare you? Why don’t you learn to live within your means and stop reproducing like rabbits? It’s called Kachin land. If you want to enjoy what the Kachin have, buy from them at fair market price or exchange for it with what they may want back from you. If burman can’t behave like a civilized people, hit the road. Or there will be consequences. Just because Burman have superior weapons, it doesn’t mean they can win the war. This is just one battle. We will bring the battle to burmen’s heartland to evn it out.

        • There is no such name as Kachin or Burmese land. The name of this country is known as “The Union of Myanmar”. If you keep your eyes closed and this is Kachin land, Think about how many Kachin and other ethnic people lives peacefully in the mainland. If you don’t know the figure find out more it is over 80% of ethnic people lived in the mainland. Many of them are even serving in the Military and holding higher ranking positions. Only few uneducated and uncivilised are still thinking that they can survive in this jungle. Without the support of drug dealers and external influences these terrorists would have been vanished long ago. First thing you must understand is the respect for the sovereignty of this county instead of creating terrorist activities since the country gained independence from colonialists who continuously supporting these terrorists. Your comment made this clear picture of these terrorists bringing the battle to the heartland of the country. Dream on it but it will turn nightmare and you will see the consequences.

          • You can’t force people into union they don’t want to be in. If those people want to live in the jungle, it is their choice. Who give you the right to decide where they should live and how? If you think you can create consequences just because you have bigger armies, don’t forget there are countries with even bigger armies in the neighborhood. And Burmen are not popular people among the neighbors. You will be stuffing your mouth with more than you can chew.

      • Bill, would you tell me who would tell me who are killing these women and children?

        • Kachin Terrorists!! They are using them as human shield to make good coverage on international media.

          • Dear Bill,

            Chief Minister of Kachin State is being asked to resign by President Thein Sein after refusing to provide 1,000 civilians for Burmese Army to be used as human shields in the fight against KIA.

          • Burman bandits lied to international media that there was no fighting in kachinland. Then caught with their pants down as usual. How pathetic!

          • Dear Bill,

            Would you please explain to me why Chief Minister of Kachin State is being asked to resign by President Thein Sein after refusing to provide 1,000 civilians for Burmese Army to be used as human shields in the fight against KIA?

      • Oh Bill you remind me of your stepfather who once said “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” Do you truly believe the things you say here? I wonder you might have a mental issues… One sure thing is you are morally bankrupt dude.

        • NJNP, I am sorry to hear from someone who sounded like fatherless even you may not know who your father was. Some people like you are needed some rest and clean your head. Think positively and do something worthwhile for your community. I have seen a stray dog that I fed time to time that never stray away from my fence and always protecting any trespassers tried to enter my yard. It never tried to bite the feeding hand. Also I have noticed it other types of stray dogs are usually barking and shitting outside of the fence where they were once fed. Think about it. Everyone can use any abusive term like you do but I dare not to because I have been taught by my parents how to live life decently. “Lu Lain Mar Thar Yin Par, Lu Mike Thar Yang Kar”.

          • my way of positive thinking is creating a Kachin Republic.
            my way of doing something worthwhile is supporting KIA financially as best as I can and revealing the truth about burman brutality in public forum like this.
            I don’t know how bad your upbringing was. usually ignorant people breed little ignorant. it must be pretty bad when you choose to voluntarily defend indefensible burman military thugs. usually only dogs display such loyalty. i’m not implying that you are an animal because you can read and write.

    • Absolutely. You are 100% right. I agree with you, my friend. Suu Kyi is now revealing her Burmese color.

  6. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Maybe, Uncle Sam (Obama) is KEEPING OUT OF the KACHIN FIASCO because CHINA is INVOLVED folks, trust me.
    Obama and the communists in Beijing have a SECRET ALLIANCE and PROMISE to SPLIT the SPOILS only.
    They would NEVER GO HEAD to HEAD over BURMA least of all as BURMA is already MARKED as CHINA’S (Chinese) TERRITORY/PROPERTY since 1988 until today.
    And the US is INDEBTED to the CHINESE to the tunes of TRILLIONS of DOLLARS as well, lest you guys forget.
    In short the US and China have done the HI-FIVE already I say.
    Hence, Daw Suu as well is KEEPING TIGHT-LIPPED for that matter (Kachin case) no doubt.
    KIA and ABSDF are STANDING TALL and HOLDING the FORT (Laiza) until today.
    They will DEFEND the LAND and COUNTRY until to the LAST MAN and DROP of BLOOD as well trust me.

  7. I wish you to be a peace negotiator of all conflicts on earth as you know much of all tricks. Mind you, KIA has never been a part of the rest of the country and they don’t even represent the majority of genuinely peace loving ethic Kachin people. They are simply no more than the terrorists of the region who were once supported by their old friend Uncle Sam and its siblings. They are not defending the Land (Don’t even think about the country). Their only intention of KIA creating all destruction against the country is just to hold the land for their own interest and greed. For this reason KIA used innocent people and sacrificed them for the benefit of a group of people since the country gained independent from the colonialists. They are worse than the communists or military government. Don’t bring the name of Su Kyi in this dispute as she knows what is more important for the country.

  8. The Burmese government will not allow any demand which is not in their plan paved by the father of brutal army janta, Mr Than.Those who have achieved peace agreement with them are those who demand exactly what they have expected.If they really want to make peace they should consider and comply what the other want.None of Burmese soldier drops a single drop of blood to protect the soil of Kachin in the past,present and will not in the future.The people of Kachin has done it and they will continue to do so until the last person.Stop invading,you,the brutal Janta!

  9. Asking the KIO to enter into political dialogue like other ethnics? Political dialogue? Where is that dialogue? Where did happen? I am a Chin- American (I am a US Citizen) and when my government is asking this so stupid demand from Kachins, I feel so ashamed. The US government can do much better that this. KIO always demanded political dialogue but the junta fails to meet that demand. There is no political dialogue so far in Burma. US must not lend killing machine to the Burmese thugs.

    • You should follow the whole conflicts from the beginning to understand what you are saying. You must have been in States for long time and enjoying your life for sometime. This conflict started since the independent of this country. Not just happening during the time of Than Shwe or Thein Sein. Some stupid uneducated people had been encouraged and armed by the former colonialists to carryout insurgence activities, damaging public properties, setting up land mines on rail tracks leading to Northern part of the country to cut off the communication and transportation, etc. Since those days they have become a main source of terrorists activities. They have never come up with reasonable agenda for peace talk. Only what they want is total control of the region. What kind of hollow headed 1diots they are?

      • Why do Burmen insist to control kachinland? It is far from their birth place. Besides the Kachin mind their own business and trade with all the neighbors since the beginning of recorded history. Why is it so hard for the Burmen to understand? Do you see the similarity between Burman behavior and the recent bus gang rape in India? Burmen tricked Kachin into signing pang long agreement just like Indian girl and her friend were tricked into the fake bus. Then Burman attacked the Kachin while the latter tried to get out due to lies and abuses just like the bus rapists attacked the Indian girl and her friend after finding out they got into the death bus.

  10. Sorry Bill, I have carefully read all of your comments. You think you knows the history and you are full of knowledge but the full cup you have is empty on the bottom and you seem to have your full cup only on the surface. Have you ever read about Panglong Agrement? Have you heard about Rangoon Government (only effective in Rangoon) in the 1950s? Have you ever been to Kachin State or any other States to that matter? Don’t lecture us on history, my granduncles was one of the signatories of Panglong Agreement. By the way, have you ever seen the map of Burma before British Invasion? Judging on your comments here, your ate just another ignorance Burmese citizen!

  11. Who has responsibilities ?Gen Min Aung Hlaing or Gen Myat Hein.?
    Why can’t they order to stop fighting? OR to whom they have to listen.Are there anyone superior to those 2 Generals?

  12. Bill, you seem to be full of knowledge of Burma history but the problem is your full cup is empty inside just like the weights that are used to cheat customers. Have you ever read Panglong Agreement? Do you know what is the true meaning of Union of Burma? Have you ever seen the map of Burma Kingdom before British Invasion? Do you know what the map of independent Burma would looks like without the Panglong Agreement and what have been agreed? Have you ever heard of Rangoon government (only effective in part of Rangoon) in the 1950s? Do you know why all major ethnic groups (including Bamar) took arm against the self-claimed central government? Do you know KIA made cease fire for over 17 years and never allowed to have political dialogue? Do you know why we, students were involved in 1988 uprising? Do you the current president and most of MPs are ex-military personnel who cheated the people to remain on the power?
    I sincerely suggest that your full cup has been fed by the manipulated government propaganda medias and you need to empty those first in order to receive a new one with true knowledge!
    Sincerely by; a grandnephew of a Panglong signatory

  13. Sorry, everybody forgive me because i’m very stupid, i really don’t know History and burma map before British Colony…,so please i beg you all…thankyou

  14. Bill! When ignorance is bliss it’s folly to be wise…too late, you will be beheaded by the Queen of Mons et all at dawn.

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