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The Kachin War Continues

by Joshua Kurlantzick
April 20, 2012

Supporters wave the National League for Democracy party's flag during pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's speech at Kachin National Manu park in the capital city Myitkyina, Kachin state. Supporters wave the National League for Democracy party's flag during pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's speech at Kachin National Manu park in the capital city Myitkyina, Kachin state. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)


Over at New Mandala, there have been a series of excellent posts on the continuing conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military. Several have suggested that, as the Kachin area is increasingly covered in the state press in Yangon, it suggests that the government may no longer be trying to downplay the conflict, and may instead be trying to wins hearts and minds both in the Kachin area and among the majority Burman population for its handling of the fighting, in order to isolate Kachin regions from the broader reform effort and possibly split them from sympathy in the National League for Democracy (NLD). Of course, a recent report by Human Rights Watch  suggests that serious abuses by the government forces continue in the Kachin area, and it still seems unclear whether Thein Sein’s government even has total control of military policy in the Kachin area, or whether regional commanders are making policy on the ground. This lack of control would be a highly disturbing trend but not surprising, given the fact that Thein Sein is not respected by all field commanders and that field commanders have a long history of being able to run regional commands with sizable autonomy.

No matter what the truth of the government side’s command structure, the conflict has now risen as the biggest obstacle to reform, permanent peace, and the creation of some new federal structure, a Panglong II. In addition, as New Mandala rightly notes, the claimed high casualty figures in the Kachin conflict —KIA sources claims 3,000 Burmese soldiers have been killed in recent fighting—means that, even if the war is ended, it is becoming harder and harder for an effective post-war settlement to be crafted, since both sides are losing so many people that acrimony could keep any real peace from emerging.

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  • Posted by Po Thikyar

    Kachin crisis is not just a local matter. The hatred had been reached to maximum between Kachin and Bamar and all other ethnic people.It is the reverse of Pre Pang Long days.Before independence, there was no army in the ethnic states, even Bamar civilians are few and stayed in harmony and respect to each other.

    In Pang Long all the nationalities united with one single aim “independence” and with single precondition “equality and autonomy” with Bamar people, promised by Bamar leaders..

    Everything went wrong. Bo Gyoke was assassinated. Then civil war broke out in Shan state, Kuomintang invaded Shan state,Kayin uprising in Delta and whole country.The country plummeted into Cicil war. It leads to growth of Army, deployment of Army to ethnic areas. All these conditions are crowned by maharbamar/Bamar supremacy and lack os statesmanship of Myanmar leaders.

    Civil war became chronic and cancerous.Both side suffers.Colossal hatred is heaping up.

    The attitude of ethnic people had totally changed. When Bamar army arrived the first change is naturally fear of armed nonnative strangers in their land. Then they tasted and swallowed the bitter unwholesome taste of civil war and killing of their sons and fathers in their fields, on their mountains, in their villages and towns.

    The same pattern was duplicated in every ethnic states.Currently Kachin state is worst.Kachin state will become Myanmar Arab-Isreal scenario.Some commented that Army is securing the pipeline areas.
    Is it worth to kill your brothers in exchange for money?. It is against the spirit of Pang Long where Bo Gyoke promised Autonomy and equality between races.

    If the Government and Army is not willing to talk about true Autonomy and equality of the ethnic people there will be unending bloodshed.Neighbouring country might intervene to their advantage.

    We can never built our country with “Arab-Isreal style” Civil war.
    What is the first small step? To stop the growing hatred of Kachin??? Then .. damage repair for another long long years for subsiding of hatred, then comes the genuine Pang Long.

    The man/woman or any organization who can do this will be second “Bo Gyoke”

    We are desperately expecting for second Bo Gyoke and” Third “Pang Long”

  • Posted by Ohn

    It is indeed so sweet that everyone is in a rush to justify or find excuses for all Thein Sein’s lines ( which of course are lies- -sky-full of lies). It is though still difficult to tell one who genuinely believes it from some who are there just to take advantage.

    Of course in reality, Thein Sein and the currently combative military are simply left hand and right hand of Than Shwe. Thein Sein is no more of a head of any government than Maryl Street is British prime minister even though the acting skills are about per.

    The open assault on the civilian establishment “Laiza” ,where Thant Myint -U had a quaint tea purveying the locals not so long ago, using heavy weapons and air power by their own government under any guise is a war crime of first class.

    By not objecting that act of obscene cruelty of human by human using strongest terms or practical interference, the world become sadder (in fact pathetic) place and Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner a sadder person along with the “Prize” ( pathetic all the same).

    How could people sleep? Does MONEY mean really that much to people? Is there any human left on earth?

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