NAYPYITAW — The Tatmadaw is ready to obey if President U Win Myint orders a stop to military operations in Kachin State in line with the law, said permanent secretary of the Defense Ministry Brigadier-General Aung Kyaw Hoe.
The Brig-Gen said so in response to The Irrawaddy’s question during a press conference of the Defense Ministry on Tuesday in Naypyitaw.
The Irrawaddy said the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar Army, stopped military operations in Kachin State under President U Thein Sein’s order and asked if it would do the same if the current President U Win Myint ordered it to do so.
“The Tatmadaw is under the leadership of the state. The President is the head of the country. If he gives an executive order, we are ready to obey. There is no reason we won’t obey it,” said the Brig-Gen.
He blamed ethnic armed organizations for the ongoing clashes, saying that fighting continues because those groups attack Tatmadaw commands and headquarters.
“They extort money on the Union Highway. They commit killings and attacks, and conduct mine attacks and other destructive acts. These activities pose great danger to the administrative mechanism of the government and we, therefore, have to respond,” said Brig-Gen Aung Kyaw Hoe.
The Irrawaddy phoned the spokesperson of the President’s Office for comment but was told he was busy and was unable to respond.
U Lin Lin Oo, a Lower House lawmaker representing Kachin State’s Tanai Township where clashes are ongoing, said that it takes two to stop the armed clashes. As the government has to take responsibility for the consequences of the clashes, it will be difficult for it to continue dialogue with ethnic armed groups if the fighting does not cease.
“It is not a good idea to solve problems with military means. The government should mediate in clashes. Otherwise, there will be serious problems such as internally displaced persons, which will fall on the government,” said U Lin Lin Oo, a National League for Democracy lawmaker.
Anti-war protests in Yangon in the second week of May ended with a crackdown on protesters, some of who were detained under the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.
The country is now led by a democratic government and has a Parliament, and ethnic armed groups can now make their demands democratically without bearing arms, said Brig-Gen Aung Kyaw Hoe.
“They don’t want to relinquish the power that they have gained from bearing arms. Peace will never be achieved if they cling to arms. I would say that peace can be achieved only through the path of the NCA [Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement],” he added.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.