Govt Sincerity Key to Civil War Endgame
covering burma and southeast asia
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Govt Sincerity Key to Civil War Endgame

By SAW YAN NAING / THE IRRAWADDY Saturday, March 24, 2012

KNLA soldiers march to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of Karen Revolution Day at Oo Kray Kee Township in Karen State in January. (Photo: Reuters)

Despite a raft of ceasefire agreements, on-and-off hostilities between Burmese government troops and ethnic rebels on the ground are threatening to undermine the delicate peace negotiation process.

Since late 2011, Naypyidaw has signed ceasefire pacts with several major armed ethnic rebels groups including Karen, Shan, Mon, Chin and Karenni militias. But clashes which have broken out on the ground contradict these pledges made around the negotiating table, causing observers to become confused as to the true state of affairs.

Nowadays, the talk of the town among ethnic Karen war refugees living in temporary shelters on the Thai-Burmese border is the increase in military supplies reaching government bases.

They told The Irrawaddy that government forces have increased their military supplies ever since the Karen National Union (KNU) signed a ceasefire agreement on Jan. 12 in Pa-an, the capital of Karen State.

Military supplies are openly being sent to KNU areas without the threat of attack due to the terms of the ceasefire pact. Local KNU armed units said they have also witnessed the transportation of government military supplies by boat on the Salween River since January, but they did not disturb the shipments.

War victims who have been displaced for years in the jungle or temporary shelters in Karen State also not dare return home as government troops have been increasing their military presence in KNU-controlled areas.

A couple of Karen internally displaced persons at a temporary shelter on the Thai-Burmese border said that local villagers are very worried about the ceasefire breaking down due to the apparent stockpiling of weaponry.

They said that local people and Karen military units will be the ones who suffer attacks and human rights abuses firsthand if outright hostilities resume.

According to the Bangkok-based Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), a humanitarian organization that provides assistance to war refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, there are more than 450,000 civilians currently internally displaced in a rural area of 50 townships in eastern and southeastern Burma alone. Household poverty assessments across 14 townships indicate that 63 percent of homes are unable to meet basic needs.

Htoo Klei, the secretary of the Karen Office of Relief and Development, a humanitarian group which operates in the conflict zone in Karen State, said that skirmishes between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)—the KNU's military wing—and the government broke out in early March.

Baw Boe, a KNLA soldier at the frontline, claims that Burmese troop positions have built up a three-month supply of armaments and food. He doubts the government’s sincerity as their soldiers seem to be preparing for battle while their leaders talk about peace with the KNU.

“If [the Burmese government] really wants to make peace, they have to reduce their troops in our areas. Instead, they increase the military supplies,” said Baw Boe.

Another ethnic rebel group, the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South), which agreed a ceasefire in December, has claimed that government forces still attack its frontline positions despite the truce. Government troop reinforcements have also increased in Shan State since SSA-South leaders signed the agreement.

On Mar. 11, government troops launched offensives against rebel outposts in Mong Yawng Township, east Shan State, and in Kyaukme Township, northwest Shan State.

Maj Sai Lao Hseng, the main spokesperson for the SSA-South, said, “We learned that they deliberately attacked out troops. We can’t trust them. So we have ordered our troops only to fire in self-defense.”

Heavy fighting was also reported between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and government troops in northern Shan State on March 12. This came just two days after leaders of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), held unsuccessful talks with a Naypyidaw peace delegation in the Chinese border town of Ruili.

Brig-Gen Gun Maw, the vice-chief of staff of the KIA, said, “There needs to be more discussions about the withdrawal of Burmese army bases from the region. We will continue to talk until we reach an agreement.”

More than 20 major and minor ethnic minority rebel groups, including the KIO, have signed ceasefire agreement since 1989.

The KIO signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994, but it broke down in June 2011 when government troops launched attacks against KIA bases causing at least 40,000 Kachin civilians to become refugees.

Saw Eh Doh Wah, a Karen community leader who participated at a recent unity seminar in KNU-controlled areas, said, “Look at the example of the KIO.

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Thura Zaw Hein Wrote:
Contd – No doubt I am a Bamar. We all were brain washed. Soldiers in the service are more than brain washed. They enjoy doing those things, even love to boast others with pride – how many girls raped, how many men killed, how many methods of torture practiced, and so on.
We can understand how Thais hate Burmese; we should imagine the depth of abhorrence of our minorities against Bamar. Politicians should study and understand in depth and reveal the truth of how Bamars are viewed by the minorities.
Media is in the best position to perform the task to interview all the minorities and to inform their accurate views toward Bamars to the public, more to Bamar soldiers, to understand their inhumane acts and incorrect way of thinking. Media is the force to reveal the truth and to convey clear understanding on situations as well as to educate the general public about our fortune to have the natural diversities that we all should live and enjoy together.

Thura Zaw Hein Wrote:
When I was very young, we were always very happy to read about winning stories of Burmese army in the government newspapers – stories about killing Karen rebels who said to have bombed trains, shot at passenger buses, taxed people at gunpoint; winning stories about crushing Shan rebels who sabotaged power lines, trafficked narcotic, raping girls, etc.
After receiving a military training in the Burmese army, my mindset U-turned hearing stories told by both field soldiers and military intelligence – about their ruthless tactics – identify and encircle on the maps the areas for elimination of insurgency; arrest during march to the sites everyone found en route; get information by torturing them; don’t let them flee and inform the others; kill them if risk of escape exists; get the taste of girls and women in the areas; destroy access to food by torching crop sheds; accomplish occupation by burning villages – all to my complete surprise and difficult understanding if it was right. Contd -

Mg Bama Wrote:
Unless the Bama Military abandons its policy of Bama National Chauvinism(Maha Bama)talk peace is just a lie. So, who should rule the country? Every ethnic group has the rights to rule and develop own political, economic and social-cultural destiny.According to UN Convention, every human being born with freedom. Everybody have own self-determination. Why " the Bama Government" alone want to rule and dominate over ethnic people? If Bamans are more than 50% of the population in Burma, what are they doing? if they dare not to fight back " the " Bama Military government" like other ethnic group, we must say, they accept the National Chauvinism (Maha Bama).

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
In the history of Burma, Bama chauvinism is always existance to destroy ethnic groups which is out of date in the 21st century of globlization. If Bama Tatmadaw loves their own peoples why not stop fighting instead of re-enforcing their troops in the thenic areas. Bama military always wants to show their might which is wrong to own citizens. PEACE is the only way to stop fighting, to create PEACE is required to have sincerity and honesty, so Tatmadaw must have this quality then only get PEACE in Burma.The only way to establish PEACE is under equal footing i.e.Federated Union of Burma.

Bill Gov Wrote:
When there is no advancement in peace and in Burma; and no genuine reform and sincere integrity to bring the country forward, how can reform be irreversible?

When there is not a genuine step forward, how can reform be irreversible?

When the media cannot forward its freedom of free speech, how can reform be irreversible?

When the rule of law cannot progress forward, how can reform be irreversible?

When corruption in the government is rampant and the judiciary cannot forward its independent judicial obligation and stamp out rogue corruption, how can reform be irreversible?

When the country cannot advance and progress forward with true democracy, how can reform be irreversible at all?

No genuine forward progress and advancement, no irreversibility!

Kyaw Wrote:
Fully support Saw Yan Naing, an addition, We need a true National Leader like Aung San Su Kyi. We do have a Qualified Doctor who can heal this cancerous disease of the Nation, the Doctor who is not granted license.
The autonomy must be granted. The ethnic armies must be formed the State Army under their own commanders and under the freely elected State Prime Minister. All troops which are not local must be withdrawn. This is the only solution. Reluctant to comply with it means endless bloodshed which will eventually destroy this Country. (Means to become vessel states of Thailand). The one who resit to comply with it is the one who destroy this country.

Nyi Nyi Wrote:
Why is Aung Thaung in charge of the government negotiation team? He is not in the government. It should be someone from the government. This clearly shows Than Shwe put him in this position so that he can report back to him directly. President Then Sein has not power to remove him from this position against Than Shwe's wish.

A.M.O Wrote:
The word 'Sincerity' had been no more valid in Burma ever since military regime took over power in 1962; these guys could be dubbed as thugs (ref. Colin Powell on Depayin massacre).

Chief negotiator Aung Thaung is a big thief(ref. Min of Ind-1) who is well blessed by his boss Sr Gen Than Shwe who is a well known thug (ref. Colin Powell).

Irrawaddy Fan Wrote:
You talks about the Burmese government sincerity, but how come you don't interview any of the Burmese government's officials about their perspective? It's good that we now know the perspective of KNU thanks to Irrawaddy, but there are always two side of the story so I believe it would be great if you guys could get the other perspective too. Thank you.

Ohn Wrote:
“We can only develop our country when the civil war comes to an end. "

One day soon, people might rightly get sick of these high school essays.

What is genuinely needed is to tell the army founded by daddy to pack and go right now so that the innocent public can lead their life in peace like they have done for centuries.

The most chauvinistic odious Burmese military mind set is NEVER going to change. They will keep killing their own people happily for centuries.

Ohn Wrote:
The most chauvinistic, most odious, most ruthless Burmese military mind set is NEVER going to change. They will keep killing and torturing their own people happily for centuries.

The only question is whether the so- called "Opposition" who has been busy heaping on praise after praise with resounding endorsement of the leader of this military pack, Thein Sein, can really denounce the coveted gains of pipes, ports, rails and trade enough not to collude with the military in killing and torturings to get them.

The way it is now, the military feels pretty secure in their belief that, but for these high school essays, the "opposition" are well with them in the search for Burmese Glory enough to support more killings and torturings to come .

CTH Wrote:
To the Chief of Staff of the Burmese Army. If you are a true Buddhist, stop the fighting with the minorities and please give PEACE a chance, have Metta on all human beings, remember nothing is permanent, you will have to leave this world one day also.

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