‘They Will Fail’

Naw Awn, mayor of Laiza, sits at his desk with a Kalashnikov assault rifle leaning casually against the wall behind him. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

Naw Awn is an unassuming man whose placid air belies the fact that he is the mayor of a town virtually under siege. As Burmese military forces inch closer to Laiza every day, there is little about him to indicate that he fears the town could soon fall to an army that has repeatedly ignored government orders to stop fighting. Perhaps the only signs that he is not just another small-town mayor are the steel army helmet on his cluttered desk and the Kalashnikov assault rifle that leans casually against the wall behind him.

The Irrawaddy’s Steve Tickner spoke to Naw Awn last week, shortly before Naypyidaw declared a unilateral ceasefire on Friday that promptly broke down over the weekend. He expressed a quiet confidence in local residents’ ability to cope with the ongoing offensive, and seemed equally certain that the Burmese armed forces would ultimately fail in their efforts to break the spirit of the Kachin people.

Question: What effect has the recent and ongoing assault had on the township of Laiza?

Answer: Before Christmas we had heard news the Burmese army was preparing to attack Laiza and we started to hear the artillery around the 27th of December, but by now, after two years, we are used to war so really there isn’t too much effect or fear.

Q: What can you say about the incident on Monday morning [Jan. 14] when the first two shells fell in the center of the town, killing three residents?

A: This attack was the first time artillery shells had landed in the town itself, but we were prepared because the Burmese had warned they would do this.

Q: Do you have evacuation plans for the residents of the town?

A: We have educated the townspeople as to how to behave and stay safe, but if absolutely necessary we do have plans for evacuations to China.

For the large IDP population the situation is much the same. The KIO has established a committee to look after the needs of the IDP population.

The committee also organizes the distribution of various NGO donations. We have received only a small amount of international support, but most of all we want international support for our human rights situation.

Q: Do you have anything you would like to say to the international community?

A: Yes, I would like to say that the Kachin people will continue to resist injustice. The international community should be bringing much more pressure to bear on our situation. The EU has mentioned what is happening, but not our neighbor, China, as of yet.

Q: What do you think of the reform process being undertaken in Burma?

A: Although the world is pressing Burma for reform I don’t believe it is genuine. After 60 years of civil war, the “reform” process is not to be believed and the outside world is very foolish to believe it as well.

Q: What are your main concerns?

A: Laiza is the heart of the Kachin community. Its people are strong and stand solidly behind their front-line soldiers, supporting them with rations and prayers for their safety.

It is not only the army defending Laiza—the town’s entire administrative staff and I myself also visit the front line to help and support the soldiers.

The Burmese soldiers are fighting far from their homes and suffer low morale, but our people show a strong intent to defend our state.

I think the Burmese army likes to attack on days such as Christmas because they know the Kachin people gain strength from their Christian beliefs. They would like to destroy the morale of the Kachin people, but they will fail.

21 Responses to ‘They Will Fail’

  1. We are unable to bear arms and fight in the battlefields but we all are send our thoughts and prayers every single day to the Kachins who are defending their own land and their own people. In this six decade long civil war, the Kachins are always right. Because this war broke out as the Pang Long Agreement was broken by the Burmese dominated government. The Union was not betrayed by the Kachins but by the Burmese. That’s why the Kachins deserve sincere apology for the endless sufferings caused by the traitor, Burmese government.

    • 100% right Salai Lian. As a result of Panglong treaty broken by the successive majority burmese dominated government. To get genuine peace, this point is the important point.

  2. They will fail. Amen to that. We are all very pround of the Kachin leadership, what the Kachins stand for has always been for durable ceasefire, justice, freedom and equality.

  3. Prayers to the Kachins and every person that suffering from injustice in Burma

  4. Hi Kachin Brothers,
    We admire your brave resistance against the invading burmese army and air offensive. All the ethnic minorities support you. You are defending our land, culture, and existance. You have shown the world that we cannot be bullied to abandon our lands.

  5. Irrawaddy should explore more about Panglong treaty and experts’ opinion upon it. Ones want to say Panglong treaty is influenced by British colony and some clauses are not favored to U nu’s government. Some Burmese forget about the Kachin’s first declare on Japanese occupation in Burma before General Aung san. British government should go out to give an opinion on this Panglong agreement.
    Anyway, cheer Kachin for fighting people war against bama military war.

  6. Kachin was small ethnic before independent.these people live in mountain area.they dont have culture and education.like shan we burmese accept for their culture and history.kachin have no history and lived only in mountain region.these war start when english separate between our two ethnic .there are no kachin,no burma or shan….there are one people who live in our land call myanmar or burmese.kio leader doing business with china and they want to still remain their business but they tell innocent kachin people they are fighting for their people.like you can see the highest member of kio family shift to china.and china want to make their state like yunann .so they encuorage kachin to attack or make war between our country.including ABSDF army their leader like minkonaing,kokogyi and many leader dont fight anymore.they take black money from kio and they fight myanmar.even i dont like u thein sein government i dont support kia who was making war for their personal benefit.

    • You have freedom of press and freedom of expression. But expressing stupidity is as ugly as your stepfathers have done to the Union.

    • Min Min,
      Study Burmese history before you write anything here. History written by the ethnic people including Kachin, Shan, Karen, Mon, Rahkine etc and Brithish and American and not the history written by the military government. then you will have a second thought on what you just worte here about kachin. and also look into see why we have the longest civil war in the world and why/how it was started.
      well, that is, if you were not someone who has been paid by the military for blogging on the internet. if that’s the case, you will have to do what you are asked to do.

      • khin m chit i am free from every organization.you think that civil war start from Panglong agreement.no lets consider if we all are rich like norway people.singaporean we all concentrate in work and living.that war start from our people who always want to leader .and they become dictatorship like dog ne win .he always talk about if he was not in power the country would break down.in his time war is all over the country.in 1988 we ask democracy we dont ask federal. but military government create that was danger to state.they take more years and now in still in power.
        but like you and me we are blaming each other but we dont do effectively for our country.if you believe let follow min ko naing and ko ko gyi association who eliminate dictatorship without you gun.only pen and book.i think we have only two enemies like china and bingali(kalar).

    • Welcome to Gotham City. You do not like Thein Sein’s government. You do not support KIA. Thein Sein’s government is the one which blocks us from having the real democracy. The KIA has been fighting for genuine democracy for decades. You don’t like dictatorship and you don’t like democracy either. So, you are Batman from Gotham City.

      • ngwe soe i dont do politic.but i dont support kia or thein sein.but i believe in ko min ko naing and ko ko gyi and many ex student men and women who eliminate general ne win without using guns.now dictatorship was still existing.because we burmese people had habit all person want to be leader no follower that why we all citizens was lack behind in all sector.

  7. How Burmese army can get forgiveness from Kachin people? Simple way is stay back in barack & meet without arm than make it real friend.

    • glen i dont understand why insurgent or freedom fighter targeting un effected soldier like captain,major,colonel and…higher post.they should target ne win dictatorship.after ne win they should saw mg or than shwe.just wasting time and people.no effected.that why war exist for several year.how dumb u r leaders are.you look ko min ko naing or ko ko gyi and 88 students eliminate without using gun.no gun only book and pen. no need to fight with kachin bec we are major ethnic burmese people.i wish and we are very strong in economy and army to challenge doggie china.

  8. A profile in courage, pure and simple!

  9. I am shocked with the comments of Min Min who seems to be educated only by the brainwashed sub human education system of the military regimes. Kachins have 4000 years of History, more civilized and more humane than the Barbaric Military regimes and Thein Sein Government. Read Kachin History of Manam Tawng (China).

  10. I am with 100% to mayor Naw Awn “they will fail”
    I want to say “They must fail”.
    I more believe in creating fully owned Kachin State.

  11. Osama Binladin style with Kalashnikov rifle

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