By Zin Linn
Burma Army’s full-scale offensives are becoming greater than ever in Kachin State. The fighting seems revengeful as Burmese soldiers used to commit various crimes – such as looting, killing, raping and burning down the civilians’ villages – in the front line. Actually, ordinary Kachin people are just innocent citizens of Burma and soldiers should spare their lives and properties.
However, Kachin natives are singled out by the Burmese soldiers and they are not regarded as citizens of their own nation. It looks like Burma Army has been launching a racial war. In frontline areas, Burmese soldiers are committing crimes freely as there are no effective or appropriate penalties set by senior authorities.
The worst and concrete evidence is that the wicked Burmese Army has used a mysterious chemical weapon in the recent offensive against Kachin rebels in Northern Burma, quoting victims’ suffering, Kachin News Group reported.
For more than a week, Burmese soldiers used the unidentified chemical weapon in three war zones — Christian Prayer Hill and Lung Zep Kawng in Ga Ra Yang village, and Shwe Nyaung Pyin village — against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on Myitkyina-Manmaw (Bhamo) Road in Waingmaw Township. Those events were narrated by KIA soldiers, who were under attack by such poisonous gas.
On October 29, Burma Army troops fired two mortar rounds of chemical weapons on the People’s Army fighters under the KIA in Prayer Hill, said civilian fighters.
“Two rounds of chemical weapons were fired at us in Prayer Hill. There were seven of us present. Dark smoke billowed from the areas where the mortar shells landed,” La Gun, a civilian fighter and a victim of the chemical weapon told Kachin News Group on Sunday.
When the victims breathed the dark smoke, they felt extremely dizzy, found it hard to breathe, thirsty and vomiting for hours, according to one victim.
The same chemical weapon was used during the week-long fighting in Lung Zep Kawng last week, La Gun said. The same day, the chemical weapon was used by the Burmese Army in Ntap Bum battle zone, near the KIA headquarters Laiza. Four KIA soldiers suffered dizzy, fell on the ground and began vomiting for a long time, said eyewitnesses.
This is an act of breaking the Geneva Protocol which banned use of chemical and biological weapons in both civil and foreign conflicts. President Thein Sein’s government has to take responsibility for the use of such chemical weapon.
Burma observers and analysts are confused over the war between KIA and Burma Army. While the president is speaking about the importance of national unity, his army has been increasing the hostilities in ethnic areas.
Derek Mitchell, special U.S. envoy for Burma, said on 17 October that violence had continued against ethnic minorities in the countryside north and east and there were “credible reports” of continuing human rights abuses against women and children.
During a visit aimed at assessing the military-dominated nation’s bid to the ASEAN chair, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Saturday he urged Burma’s leaders to release more political prisoners and take greater steps to reconcile with restive ethnic groups. He also said that he expected progress in these areas before the country assumes the chair of ASEAN.
Burma’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi made an appeal on last July 28 for political talk and an urgent ceasefire between major ethnic rebel groups – Kachin Independence Organization, Karen National Union, New Mon State Party, Shan State Army – and government troops.
In her open letter dispatched to the new President Thein Sein, Suu Kyi offered to act as a mediator between the government and the ethnic rebels.
“National reconciliation cannot be accomplished by using military might. If stakeholders used the gun to solve out the disagreement, it will make disadvantage for all sides. To establish an authentic national unity, that will make safe the future of the Union, can only be accomplished through political dialogue,” the open letter says.
If the President Thein Sein truly wanted to recreate the country into a democratic and developed society, all the wars with respective ethnic rebels including KIA must be stopped at once. President Thein Sein should not say poverty alleviation while he has been launching civil war against ethnic groups that make the country underprivileged in the region.
Hence, it is really essential for the president to end the civil war, particularly war against KIA.
If Burmese troops have used chemical weapon, President must determinedly order them to stop immediately. By doing so, president has to show the country is on the right reform path.
Judgment to end civil war will also achieve wide-ranging supports domestically and internationally.