NGOs, Political Parties Condemn Army Shelling of KIA Training School

By Yen Saning 4 December 2014

RANGOON — A group of 54 civil society organizations and ethnic political parties on Thursday jointly condemned the Burma Army’s deadly shelling of a Kachin rebel training school two weeks ago, saying that it could threaten the country’s national ceasefire process.

“The military must take responsibility to prevent surprise military attacks during the nationwide ceasefire process,” a joint statement by the groups said, adding that the army should take the initiative to announce a unilateral nationwide ceasefire to further the peace process.

The government should launch an independent investigation into the shelling incident, according to the group, which includes All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) Taunggyi Branch, civil society organizations such as the Karen Women’s Union and the Farmers Network, and political parties such as the Democratic Party for A New Society and the United Nationalities Alliance.

The latter is alliance of eight ethnic parties, including the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Mon Democracy Party, Zomi National Congress and the Karen National Party.

The government and the army, the statement, said “should stop the war and urgently hold a political dialogue based on peace, democracy and national reconciliation and development, which involves the government, the army, democratic forces and the people.”

On Nov. 19, the Burma Army surprised cadets carrying out exercises when it fired several shells at a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) training school, killing 23 cadets, most of who came from KIA allies, such as the ABSDF, the Arakan Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

The attack has proven a setback for the talks between the government and the army and an alliance of 16 ethnic armed groups, which have been discussing a nationwide ceasefire accord since mid-2013.

“Only if the one who has power, the military, announces a ceasefire first and holds honest and frank discussions with the ethnics then we will have peace,” Zaw Lian, from the Farmers Network, said during a press conference in Rangoon.