By Zin Linn
What is the government’s objective in the war against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)? Although, President Thein Sein has been speaking about the national unity for many times, the wars with ethnic groups continue. If these wars are not launched by the government, then the person responsible for this war may be the present military boss General Min Aung Hlaing.
Then, another question arises. Does the military boss comply with the defense minister of the new government? The President Thein Sein 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 the armed forces.
Keeping political dissidents in prison and attacking ethnic armed groups is the policy of the previous junta’s boss, Sen. Gen Than Shwe. Hence, it is to be considered that the new military boss is going along with Than Shwe’s policy rather than President Thein Sein’s guidelines. Then, there is another question: Is Than Shwe still powerful in Burma’s politics?
The war in Kachin State seems to be the outcome of the policy divergence between the Burmese government and the Burma Army. It means the military is standing together with the hardliners of the existing cabinet led by the vice president Tin Aung Myin Oo. Moreover, the hardliners are also a pro-China faction. Hardliners have decided to protect the Chinese development projects in Kachin State in addition to their power structure and business profits.
Because of the China factor, some observers think, the soft-liners led by President Thein Sein cannot stop simply the war against KIA and they cannot afford to free all political prisoners in favor of change. People believe that China is pulling the strings in Burma’s politics in order to establish its regional strategic power.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 Chinese soldiers have deployed along the Sino-Burma border in its south-western Yunnan province, as civil war escalates in northern Burma between government troops and Kachin resistance forces, Kachin News Group said.
Bum Htoi, a border-based military analyst and former officer of the Chinese-backed Communist Party of Burma (CPB), said more Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops have been deployed on the lengthy border with Burma in Kachin State and Shan State since early October.
According to eyewitnesses, Chinese troops are mainly deploying at Jang Hkawng, La Ying, Manghai (former CPB headquarters) and Xiao Zhai. The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) also confirmed Chinese combat troops are currently deploying near KIA strongholds close to the China border, KNG said.
Over 300 Chinese troops are currently stationed at the newly constructed military post in the Chinese town of Manghai, opposite Mongkoe in Burma, according to residents of Mongkoe. Over a hundred Chinese PLA troops have been deployed at Manghai since Burmese troops began a new offensive against the KIA on June 9, Bum Htoi added.
He said, “It is unusual that over 2,000 Chinese troops are deployed near the Burma border. It is aimed at blocking Kachin refugees from crossing into Chinese soil.”
According to IDP aid groups, at present Chinese border authorities have been not only preventing Kachin refugees from entering China but also barring the cross-border food and medicine supplies from China to KIA-controlled areas where over 20,000 Kachin internally displaced persons take shelter, KNG reported.
Increasingly, Kachin people in battle-zones are escaping to temporary camps in the KIA controlled areas and Burmese government-controlled areas in Kachin State and Shan State, aid groups in Laiza said.
Fearing abuses from the Burmese army, tens of thousands of Kachin fled their villages, Human Rights Watch said in its October 18 press release. Before arriving at displaced persons camps in KIA controlled areas, several thousand villagers hid from the Burmese army in the jungle, in some cases for a month after the fighting began.
Human Rights Watch documented the killings of three Kachin civilians by Burmese soldiers in June and is investigating credible allegations of other killings. Several people told Human Rights Watch that Burmese army soldiers fired on them as they were fleeing their village.
The Burmese army has unlawfully used Kachin civilians for forced labor, which has long been a serious problem in Burma’s ethnic areas, Human Rights Watch said.
While President Thein Sein has been pledging to create a peaceful and organized nation, his military branch has been violating fundamental human rights. All these war crimes violated by Burmese soldiers will re-emerge to haunt the President.
The President must call a nationwide ceasefire in order to stop ongoing war crimes. It is a dishonor not only for the President and his government but also for the whole nation that the Burma Army has allowed a variety of criminals in its national armed forces.