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Burma: Conflicts carry on as President urges nationwide ceasefire for 2015 election

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After the sixth round of talks (22 -- 26 Sept.) between the Burmese Government and the Ethnic Rebels Alliance Group, peace process of Burma seems in bad condition. Since the process started three years ago, after Thein Sein became president, his government cannot manage getting hold of its target for end of hostilities in ethnic areas. Subsequent to President Thein Sein's inaugural speech in March 2011, his government looks like ignoring its own promises carrying out good governance, national reconciliation, poverty alleviation and so forth.

The most important oath the president needs to fulfill is ending civil war against ethnic rebels on which implementation of good governance and poverty alleviation depends on. His government also needs honoring ethnic people's equal rights and self-determination so as to stop the war.

Even though there have been quite a lot of meetings between the government delegates led by Union Minister Aung Min and the Representative of the Ethnic Rebel groups one by one or jointly, the bargaining result for peace is no trouble-free topic. And after several decades of fighting for better self-determination, the distrust between the ethnic rebels and the Burma army -- the Tatmadaw -- goes on with uncompromising.

A Burmese army's artillery unit on 26 September fired several rounds of mortar shells on KIA position at Dumbau Bum and surrounding area, referring a local source the Kachinland News said. Dumbau Bum is located in KIA's 15th Battalion area in southern Kachin State. Burmese government troops then climbed up Dumbau hill where a KIA section stationed and the two sides engaged in a fierce battle for about an hour.

Battles continue to rage in northern Shan State between Burmese army and KIA's ally Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).TNLA sources said there were at least two separate encounters during this week between its troops and Burmese army troops under 77th and 88th Light Infantry Divisions.

According to 3 October DVB News, Fighting broke out between the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and Burmese government forces in Ta Pha Saung, an area located in Shan State's Kaese Township. At least five battles took place starting early on 2 October morning, according to SSA-N spokesperson Col. Khun Sai. The Shan Colonel accused the government of undermining the ongoing peace process by intentionally attacking the SSA-N outposts.

"We've seen the Burmese army intentionally launching unprovoked attacks against us because they don't want to see peace," he said. He said the attacks were likely carried out because SSA-N troops refused a previous order from the Burmese army to leave the Ta Pha Saung area.

Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) which represents 16 ethnic armed organizations has met Burmese government's Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) in a five-day meeting held at Myanmar Peace Center in Yangon on Sept. 22-26. Sporadic fighting continues in Kachin and northern Shan State despite ongoing ceasefire talks between Burmese government and representatives of ethnic armed organizations.

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NCCT leaders said they see some setbacks in the latest session of peace talks as Burmese government delegates changed their position in matters they had already agreed in previous talks.

Lt. General Myint Soe who spoke on behalf of Burmese army said the army will stick to its six-point policy in peace talks with ethnic armed organizations. Burmese army's six-point policy includes the points that both sides must abide by existing laws and any agreements made must be in accord with the 2008 constitution which ethnic groups want abolished and rewritten.

The people of Burma have been yearning for a stable and thriving country since the 1948 independence triumph. But regrettably, the nation's independence hero General Aung San was assassinated a year ahead of liberation. As a result, civil wars throughout the nation came forward with the independence offered by British colonial rule.

The current President Thein Sein government took office by swearing to defend the 2008 Constitution. It indicates the current regime also is no different to its predecessors. It seems opposing autonomy or self-determination of the ethnic groups while it has to defend the latest constitution. In fact, federalism is no other than an idea of decentralization of the central government's supremacy.

President Thein Sein has freshly said on 1 October that the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement is compulsory for the accomplishment of the 2015 general elections and a smooth political transition in Burma.

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"As a result of political reforms, we are certain to encounter issues and threats from those taking advantage of our liberalized and freer society for personal gain. These bad actors were responsible for the ethnic and religious conflicts our country experienced recently," Thein Sein said, according to English-language state media.

The current government standpoint is that the ethnic groups must dump their stubborn attitude of grasping the federalism of Panglong Agreement. They also want the ethnic groups to be faithful to the military-backed government's unitary state policy rather than the federal union system. Actually, it means they must lay down their arms together with their hope for autonomy.

The government has stayed away from declaring a nationwide ceasefire to establish a true peaceful nation. If it was sincere, it would stop all self-styled area-cleaning offensives in ethnic territories in favor of grand dialogue to show it has a serious will to reconcile.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)
 

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