By Zin Linn
Subsequent to President Thein Sein took office, the quasi-civilian government looks as if ignoring its own promises – good governance, national reconciliation, poverty alleviation etc. – made during the presidential inaugural ceremony. The president needs to stop civil war against ethnic rebels to implement good governance, national reconciliation and poverty alleviation. His government also requires honoring ethnic people’s equal rights and self-determination so as to stop the war.
Burmese government armed forces continued offensive on KIA and Kachin civilians although there was a peace talk between the government and KIO’s representatives in Sino-Burma border city Ruili on 30 October 2012.
According to Kachinland News, a severe battle took place between Kachin people’s militia under KIA’s mobile battalion and Burma Army’s 321st L.I.B at Mali-yang on Friday. The two armed units encountered once more at Ja Pu village and fought another battle on the same day, reported a front line source.
Moreover, another mêlée occurred in northern Shan State between KIA’s 34th Battalion under 4th Brigade and Burma Army’s Meiktila-based 99th L.I.D at Mung Lung village located between Mo-gok and Kyawk-me on 30 October.
As said by KIA’s 4th Brigade commander Colonel Zau Raw, Burma Army had fired 105 mm mortar shells targeting towards Kachin administrative capital Laiza for at least 14 times while KIO had been preparing for approaching Ruili talk. There were more than 90 battles between the two sides in October alone, referring Colonel Zau Raw Kachinland News reported.
On 30 October, government peace-mission led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min met with KIO representatives headed by Kachin politician Sumlut Gam in Ruili of Sino-Burma border town.
The nine-member KIO peacemaking team was formed with Sara Kaba Sumlut Gam, Tara Kasa Lahpai La, Lt. Col. Ji Nawng, Colonel Hkun Nawng, Colonel Lahpai Zau Raw, Colonel Zau Tawng, Colonel Marip Naw Htoi and Maj. Sing Hkaw. And government peace-making body was made with 11 delegates, includes Minister U Aung Min, Minister U Win Tun, Minister U Ohn Myint, Brigadier General Tun Tun Naung, Brigadier General Aung Soe, General Zaw Win, Colonel Than Aung, Colonel Aung Thu, Colonel Kyaw Swa Win, Minister U Lajun Ngan Seng, Minister U Aung Myat, and U Tun Tun Oo, Kachinland News said.
According to KIO spokesman La Mai Gum Ja, government and theKIO have already agreed to begin political dialogue in November.
“We have agreed to continue political negotiations,” KIO spokesman told Mizzima News.
“Assuming our central committee agrees to the proposal, we will meet in November at a venue inside Burma,” he said. He said the two sides have agreed that the next meeting will be held in either Myitkyina or Bhamo in Kachin State or Muse in Shan State.
It is a puzzle for people of Burma because the peace-process between KIO and the government is easier said than done to reach its goal. The civil war has broken out together with the country’s independence since 1948. The cost of the civil war pulls Burma down into an abysmal canyon of poverty. Besides, the war caused the nation least developed country. Burma’s admittance to Least Developed Country status by the UN-OHRLLS in 1987 brought to light its economic bankruptcy.
Under British administration, Burma was the second-wealthiest country in South-East Asia. It had been the world’s largest exporter of rice. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labour resources. It produced 75% of the world’s teak and had a highly literate population. The country was believed to be on the fast track to development, David Steinberg, a distinguished Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, said in one of his research papers.
Under the military dictatorship for decades, Burma becomes known as a natural gas and teak seller and its socioeconomic conditions have gone downhill under the soldiers’ unprofessional management. The military monopolized economy makes most of the public in poverty, while military leaders and their cronies exploiting the country’s abundant natural resources.
In 2010-11, the state properties, especially real estate, were transferred to relatives of military authorities under the guise of a privatization policy. It became wider gap between the military-backed privileged first-class and the ordinary population.
Although the President expressed his compassion for war-victims in Kachin state during the 24-October press conference with the local press, he never said to address the Kachin issue through political means. The biggest gap is that the President dogmatically accepts only one army in Burma under the 2008 constitution. He also turns a deaf ear to KIO’s proposal for political dialogue to end the armed conflicts.
President Thein Sein’s government used to say that it has been trying to build a peaceful and developed country; on the other hand the momentum of civil war is increasing. So the words of the government are not in harmony with the acts of its activities on the ground.
Even though government and the KIO said that they have agreed to continue the peace negotiations in the near future, it looks impracticable since the talks have been framed by the undemocratic constitution.