By Zin Linn
Burma Army strategic warfare against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)’s HQ Liaza this time seems to be a decisive military operation.
There are fresh reports from Kachin battle-frontline across the Internet as well as social media and the on-line newspapers constantly. Besides, people throughout the country including non-governmental organizations feel shock that this battle will cause another humanitarian disaster following 100,000 people fled their homes for safety shelter in remote forest during 18-month old war.
According to media reports, there are more than 30,000 IDPs in Burmese government controlled areas and over 60,000 IDPs are currently taking refuge in KIO controlled areas. Several hundreds of civilians continue escaping their native places because they are scared of bullets, bombs, forced labors, rape, torture and other forms of violence.
Since recent few months, the hostilities between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army have reached a climax after a 17-year ceasefire accord broke down in June 2011 in Kachin sate. There were nearly 2,000 battles occurred between Burma Army and the KIA since 9 June 2011.
According to Kachin News Group (KNG), heavy fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army broke out at early hours on 14 December at Lajayang near the KIO’s Laiza headquarters. Even though there are heavy casualties on its side, Burma Army has been continuing war against the Kachin rebels ceaselessly. Referring an officer from the KIA, more than 50 government soldiers were dead by noon on Friday, KNG said.
The armed clashes occurred between Lajayang and Nalung villages which are located on the Myitkyina-Bhamo highway. It was said that the conflict seemingly started when a large band of government soldiers attempted to ram all the way through Lung Rawk post near Lajayang as part of an aborted rations delivery, the KNG said.
According to the KIA source, around 100 Burmese soldiers are trapped at Lung Rawk post. As the position located less than 5 miles from the KIO’s headquarters, it was repetitively enclosed by KIA assaults. Burma Army’s several recent attempts to provide rations for the strategic post were unsuccessful at length.
In keeping with eyewitness living in the area, the government side used Russian made helicopter gunships equipped with heavy guns. Referring the KIA officer, one of the government helicopter-gunships was hit by KIA fire and it appeared to be inoperative was seen flying back towards Myitkyina generating smoke. But three more government helicopters arrived and continued shooting on KIA targets in Lajayang, as said by KNG.
During Friday battle, Burma Army has suffered severe rout. Corpses of dozens of Burmese soldiers are currently waiting for burial at local Buddhist monastery in Lajayang, according to an eyewitness who spoke to the KNG on the condition of anonymity.
Thein Sein as well as his minister Aung Min said repeatedly that their armed forces are fighting a defensive war in Kachin and northern Shan state. Their words are completely opposite to the situation on the frontline where Burma Army has been using air-strikes upon the ethnic Kachin rebels fighting for their basic rights.
The government and KIO peace delegations had publicized a joint-statement on 10 March after peace talks for the third time at Jingcheng Hotel in Shweli, China. In the said statement, the two sides presume that military tensions would be decreased as a result of the peace talks.
Besides, Aung Min, head of government peace delegation, promised to begin a political dialogue in near future. During the talk, the two sides have agreed continuation of dialogue on the issues related to the outposts in conflict areas until the two sides reach an agreement.
The KIO’s Brig Gen Gun Maw and senior leaders had decided not to attend the 30-October peace talk, since the government has been escalating its military measures in the area. Government sends its troops around the KIO’s Laiza headquarters, and starts a systematic offensive on KIO outposts for the time being.
If the Government is sincere, it must take seriously into account the political inspiration of the KIO. On 6 October 2012, Eleven Media Group made an interview with KIA’s Information Officer U La Nan.
EMG’s questioned, “How many differences are there between the government and your KIA?”
U La Nan answered, “The government troops never consider the underlying cause of civil war in the Kachin State, but instead they focus how to dismantle the arms. This is the first point. The national races armed groups are always talking about the political problems and therefore the issues are to be resolved through a correct political approach. The method to resolve the matter is through the political approach; the national races are always advocating for a better way. The Union of Myanmar emerged in 1948. In addressing the problem, the policy is to take up genuine union pattern in the context of political approach. This is the main different approach. The government is asking to come into the legal fold, and to engage in political talks in accordance with the 2008 State Constitution. That is also the main difference.”
In the meantime, the government’s Union Level Peace-making Work Committee has purportedly offered in favor of another round of peace dialogue toward the KIO. While government is launching comprehensive military operation against KIA, no one believes its peace call as a genuine. President Thein Sein should keep his words that his army is fighting a defensive war in Kachin and northern Shan state.
If the president failed to keep his promise, people may not trust on the current reform process run by his government. He must be cautious as other ethnic ceasefire groups are anxiously observing the war in Kachin state. It could change the reform course toward a negative direction at any time soon.