19 July 2011

UN calls for ‘restraint’ in Burma’s Kachin State

Thomas Maung Shwe

CHIANG MAI: The United Nations is calling for restraint to be exercised in Kachin State as the conflict between the Burmese army and Kachin fighters shows no sign of ending.

“In light of recent significant developments in Myanmar [Burma], the United Nations strongly encourages all stakeholders to make every effort to avoid raising tensions that could damage the prospects of the country’s implementation of its political and economic reforms,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Mizzima.

Haq was responding to questions from Mizzima about the UN stance on the recent fighting in Kachin State between the Burmese central government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson said in a reply sent on Friday: “The Secretary-General and his special adviser have been following the evolving situation in Myanmar with attention, including recent reports on the activities of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD and on the situation in Kachin State.”

The UN call for restraint from all sides was met with heavy skepticism from Burma opposition activists.

Reached for comment, Mark Farmaner of the Burma campaign UK told Mizzima: “By calling on all stakeholders to avoid raising tensions, Ban Ki-moon appears to be blaming Kachin women for being gang-raped by the Burmese Army, and blaming Aung San Suu Kyi for being threatened by the dictatorship. The statement is a classic example of how the United Nations panders to the dictatorship instead of standing up for its victims.”

According to Farmaner, “Ban Ki-moon says he wants implementation of political reforms, but the main political reform currently being implemented by the dictatorship is enforcing a new Constitution which is plunging the country into civil war, and leading to an escalation in human rights violations which break international law.”

Ban Ki-moon’s UN special envoy to Burma Vijay Nambiar has come under criticism by Burma activists for not being forceful enough with the new Burmese government. Nambiar, who also serves as Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff, has filled in on an interim basis as special envoy since January 2010 and has only been involved with the Burma file part-time. The UN told Mizzima last month that a full-time replacement will be appointed in “due time,” however the UN has not given a date for when the new appointment will happen. -- Mizzima

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