29 June 2011

KIA Doubts Burmese Army Will Attack Through China


LAIZA: Kachin Independence Army (KIA) leaders said on Monday that they do not believe the Chinese government would allow the Burmese army to launch offensives against the KIA headquarters in Laiza, Kachin State from Chinese territory.

In an interview with The Irrawaddy in Laiza, the KIA’s deputy military chief, Gen. Gun Maw, said that the Burmese army might have asked the Chinese government for such help during a recent meeting of Chinese and Burmese government officials in Mungshi City, Yunnan Province.

But while not completely ruling out the scenario of China-based attacks by the Burmese army, he did not believe the Chinese government would allow such a move because it would have a substantial negative impact on border stability.

Gun Maw said that one reason he doubts the Chinese government will let the Burmese army use the main trading route between Laiza and Yunnan Province to launch military offensives against the KIA is the fact that an estimated 300,000 Kachin people are living on the Chinese side of the border.

“If the Burmese army wants to attack us from China, they can do so without the Chinese government’s permission. They can use the border pass cards to send commandos,” said Gun Maw. “But I think the Chinese government will not want to have problems with the Kachin community in China.”

Ringed by rugged mountains, Laiza used to serve as one of the main trading points between Burma and China before the KIA and the Burmese army became engaged in deadly clashes more than two weeks ago. The current conflict has been centered mainly on control of Momauk Township, Kachin State, where the Chinese government has built hydropower plants.

Since the fighting began, the previously busy road between Laiza and Yunnan Province has been mostly silent. Gun Maw said that if the Burmese army troops tried to enter Laiza using this road, it would find itself in “a killing field.” Full story at The Irrawaddy

24 June 2011

Kachins in Malaysia held anti-war protest in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: More than four hundreds of Kachins in Malaysia, who are from Burma’s northern Kachin State, on Friday 24 June 2011 held a peaceful demonstration in front of the Burmese Embassy to condemn the Burmese government’s military offensive in Kachin State, Burma.

La Nan, one of the protest leaders, said they held a brief demonstration and submitted their demands in writing to an official from the embassy. They also made their demands public by reading both in Burmese and English.

“Our prime demands to the Burmese government are

(i) STOP military offensive in Kachin State immediately

(ii) STOP raping, torturing and killing innocent civilians immediately

(ii) FIND a peaceful political solution through a meaningful dialogue,”

said La Nan.

It is also learned that a similar protest against war in Kachin State will be held on the same day by Kachin people around the world. --KBG

Border wars risk turning back the clock 20 years

By Brian McCartan

FIERCE fighting in Kachin state adds to speculation that widespread civil war may not be far off in Burma. Three separate insurgencies and the potential for more to break out threaten the country’s internal and border security. Also at risk are the small gains in economic and social development in the country’s border regions that have been made since the beginning of the ceasefires two decades ago.

The spiral toward civil war began on election day on 7 November last year when troops from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) revolted against joining the government’s Border Guard Force (BGF) plan. After briefly seizing two border towns, the group allied itself with the still insurgent Karen National Union (KNU) from which it split in 1994.

Government pressure against the 1st Brigade of the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) resulted in skirmishes that progressed to an army offensive in early March. Opposed to joining the BGF, the 1st Brigade resumed guerrilla warfare and spread its operations from its central Shan state base area into northern Shan state. By 21 May it had joined forces with the insurgent Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) along the border with Thailand to become the Shan State Army (SSA).

The largest fighting to date began on 9 June when army moves into territory of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) were resisted with force. Much of the hostilities are centered around the sites of two hydropower dams being built by the China Datang Corporation on the Taping River, leading some analysts to speculate the army’s aims are to secure the dam sites, perhaps with tacit Chinese approval. However limited the army’s aims may or may not be, KIA units to the west and south of the fighting have taken steps to prevent army reinforcements and resupply, moves that threaten to spread the conflict to other areas. Read full story at Democratic voice of Burma

22 June 2011

Burmese army accused of raping Kachin civilians

A Kachin human rights group has accused Burmese government troops of multiple cases of rape during the recent armed conflict with the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State, northern Burma.

In the statement released on Tuesday, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) claims that at least 18 female Kachins—aged between 15 and 50 years old—were gang-raped by five different Burmese Army battalions in four different townships of Bhamo District from June 10-18.

Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 437 and Infantry Battalions (IB) 237, 141, 142, 139 and 437 committed the rapes in Momauk, Monyin, Mansi and Bhamo townships, KWAT alleges.

The statement also highlights evidence that IB 437 soldiers detained three families in Dum Bung Village of Momauk Township, gang-raped six women and girls and killed seven small children. The group also accuses soldiers from IB 139 of murdering a seven-year-old girl in Je Sawn Village of Man Si Township before gang-raping and killing her grandmother. Read full story at The Irrawaddy

21 June 2011

High spirits at the KIO headquarters

IN Laiza spirits are high. There is a vibrancy in the air and the leadership of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and its armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), talk of their options with optimism. Many civilians have huddled into churches and makeshift refugee camps just meters from the Chinese border. They have chosen this spot because they don't trust the central government not to order an attack on civilians, but know that Naypyidaw is concerned about shelling China by accident. Those left in the city don't look scared.

The Kachin are in the honeymoon stage of war. If this turns into a full-scale prolonged war, this honeymoon will fade as the realities of war and refugees grow. However, the celebratory atmosphere in Laiza is not without warrant. I have personally seen many factors, some of which are still unknown even to specialists on the topic, that give the Kachin reason to be optimistic about their position and enable them to bargain with the central government with authority. The Burmese army has no chance of quickly wiping out the KIA as they did the Kokang in 2009.

The Kachin are known to be fierce fighters, but they are not warmongers. Even now, in the excitement of renewed fighting, one of the most frequently spoken words I hear during the long civil debates among the leaders and elders is “simsa,” which means peace in their native Jinghpaw language. The Kachin are the most peace-loving, kind and tolerant people I have ever come across. Read full story at The Irrawaddy

17 June 2011

More and more Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (1)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (2)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (3)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (4)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (5)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (6)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (7)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (8)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (9)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (10)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (11)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (12)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (13)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (14)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in Burma (15)

Kachin refugees flee fighting in northern Burma

15,000 Kachin refugees flee to the Sino-Burmese border

Kachin refugees fleeing fighting in Burma (Myanmar).

Kachin refugees fleeing fighting in Burma (Myanmar).

Kachin refugees fleeing fighting in Burma (Myanmar).

Kachin refugees fleeing fighting in Burma (Myanmar).

Kachin refugees fleeing fighting in Burma.

15 June 2011

New level of civil war in Burma

WITH the outbreak of fresh military confrontations in both Kachin and Shan states, the Burmese government has initiated a new level of civil war against its own people. After all, the political ideology of the Burmese government has yet to change. Their true intention was finally exposed. They are still holding onto the iron-coated concept called ‘military solutions to political problems’.

By initiating the offensive military campaigns against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) from 09 June 2011 onwards, and its subsequent false promise on POW exchange program, the Burmese government has not only breached the terms of ceasefire agreement with the KIO, but also breached the international law on codes of conduct in war. (Picture: A KIO fighter who was captured by the Burmese army was tortured to dead. Burmese army gave back a dead body to KIO) For more horrible images, visit jinghpawkasa.blogspot.com

Therefore, the international community should strongly condemn the Burmese government for such a barbaric act against its own people. -- KBG

13 June 2011

KIA 'Loses Patience' with Burmese Govt

THE Kachin Independence Army (KIA) said it has lost all patience with the Burmese government and is ready to resist any troop incursions into its territory.

Months of tension between the KIA and government troops finally snapped at the weekend when armed clashes broke out in Momauk Township in Kachin State, causing some 500 residents to flee their homes to the Chinese border.

“The fighting is ongoing on and is set to spread," said KIA spokesman La Na. "We have finally lost patience [with the Burmese army]. It's now a 'zero tolerance' policy."

The KIA signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1994. But tension mounted last year after the KIA refused to transform its battalions into a state militia under Burmese army command.

Clashes erupted on Thursday after negotiations broke down over a hostage situation. Fighting escalated further after government troops returned the dead body of the hostage, a captured KIA soldier, to the Kachin army.

Government forces have reinforced their positions in Momauk, bringing in several additional battalions. Sources said the government is preparing for a major military operation.

KIA sources claimed about 60 government soldiers were injured in clashes over the weekend, and were hospitalized in Bhamo.

Seng Aung, a resident in Laiza, the headquarters of the KIA, said he believed the fighting would escalate and that Chinese construction workers and engineers at Tapai dam near the Sino-Burmese border have returned home to escape the hostilities.

He said that prisoners from Bhamo were sent to Momauk to serve as porters for government troops.

Government forces took over a KIA liaison office in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, on Saturday night.

Lapai Naw Din, the editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, said that government authorities warned local residents in Momauk not to go out at nighttime.

Some residents have moved to safer towns while others have gone to stay with their relatives in China, said Lapai Naw Din. Many Momauk residents fled after government troops began forcefully recruiting locals to serve as porters, carrying munitions and supplies toward the theaters of battle.

During last week's clashes, at least three government soldiers were killed, including a captain, and six were injured, while two KIA soldiers were wounded, according to Kachin sources.

No further details of casualties have been released since. -- The Irrawaddy

11 June 2011

Explosion in Myanmar's capital wounds 3

YANGON: Myanmar's government says a bomb planted in a market has wounded three people in the capital.

A government official speaking on condition of anonymity says the bomb ripped through a public toilet in a market in the administrative capital Naypyitaw on Friday night.

With no clearance to speak to the media, the official declined to be identified.

It was unclear who carried out the attack. The explosion came two days after the government blamed ethnic Karen rebels for killing two people in a train bombing last month.

Bombings are rare but not unknown in Myanmar, where pro-democracy activists and ethnic groups are at odds with the military-backed regime. -- The Straits Times

10 June 2011

KIA on High Alert after Overnight Fighting

KACHIN Independence Army (KIA) troops stationed in eastern Kachin State's Momauk Township are on high alert following several hours of fighting with Burmese government troops on Thursday, as sources report that both sides appear to be bracing for further hostilities.

The fighting broke out early Thursday morning before dawn and continued until noon, according to sources in the area. The fighting involved Battalion 15 of the KIA's Brigade 3 and Burmese Battalion 437.

More government troops have been deployed as reinforcements along a route connecting Bhamo and the state capital of Myitkyina, as well as in Momauk and areas near the KIA headquarters of Laiza since late last night, according to Laiza resident Seng Aung, speaking to The Irrawaddy on Friday.

A resident of Maijaya, a village in Bhamo District, where Momauk Township is also located, said: “Almost all the Kachin men in the village have gone to the area where the fighting broke out yesterday. Now there are mostly only women, children and few men remaining in the village.”

The male residents were likely summoned by the KIA as reinforcements, as they serve as members of a paramilitary militia under KIA command, said the resident.

“If government troops continue to cross KIA-controlled areas, majors fighting is expected. If they withdraw their troops, the situation will return to normal,” said Seng Aung.

Lapai Naw Din, the editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group, said that the clashes on Thursday were serious because tension has been mounting between the KIA and the government over the KIA's refusal to become a border guard force under Burmese army control.

Some 500 troops were involved in the fighting—which included mortar shelling—on Thursday. At least three government soldiers were killed and six injured, while two KIA soldiers were wounded, said Lapai Naw Din.

The KIA, which has an estimated 10,000 troops, signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1994. However, the ceasefire informally broke down following skirmishes between the two sides late last year.

On Feb. 7, an armed clash between government troops and the KIA occurred just southeast of Bhamo, another area that is under the control of KIA Brigade 3.

On Oct. 18 of last year, an office of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization, was raided by government troops who arrested two KIO officials. A few days later, government newspapers referred to the KIA as “insurgents” for the first time in more than a decade and a half. -- The Irrawaddy

03 June 2011

McCain warns Myanmar risks Arab-style uprising

YANGON - US SENATOR John McCain warned on Friday that Myanmar could face a Middle East-style revolution if the new army-backed government fails to implement democratic reform and improve human rights.

'The winds of change are now blowing, and they will not be confined to the Arab world,' the senior Republican told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to the military-dominated nation. 'Governments that shun evolutionary reforms now will eventually face revolutionary change later.'

Mr McCain was in Myanmar to assess the new political landscape after the junta handed power to a nominally civilian but army-backed government in March following the country's first election in 20 years.

The November vote, won by the military's political proxies, was marred by widespread complaints of cheating and the exclusion of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest shortly afterwards.

Mr McCain urged the government to ensure the safety of Ms Suu Kyi, who said this week she hoped to soon conduct a political tour around the country that will be a key test of her freedom following her release.

'Aung San Suu Kyi's last attempt to travel freely was marred by violence, and the new government's ability and willingness to prevent a similar outcome this time will be an important test of their desire for change,' Mr McCain said. -- The Straits Times