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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/17/14

Burma: Is there a solution for Kachin Conflict?

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Another round of talks between the Government of Burma and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has ended without having any progress. A delegation of KIO led by Sumlut Gam and Maj-Gen Sumlut Gun Maw had met their counterparts from the government on 13 May playing a part in negotiations in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state. The government's side was led by Minister U Aung Min followed by his staff from the Myanmar Peace Centre which is a government-backed body funded by the European Union and the Norwegian government.

Some representatives from the Chin National Front (CNF) and Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) were also attended the talks as observers. Mr. Wang Ying Fan, a diplomat from China and Ms. Mariann Hagen, the assistant for Office of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar, also attended the meeting.

Both sides reiterated their earlier commitment to set up a "conflict mediation team" consists of five members from each side. In fact, it is part of the joint monitoring mechanism that was agreed on 10 October, 2013. The statement also spotlighted the false reports of some media that dented mutual understandings were also discussed at the meeting.

In his speech, Union Minister U Aung Min, vice-chairman of the work committee, stressed the need to take a simultaneous action on signing of nationwide ceasefire agreement and peace process between the government and KIO, according to the New Light of Myanmar Daily. He highlighted the importance of a ceasefire between the government and KIO, calling for a restoration of trust for reaching it.

This meeting is aimed at seeing no more clashes and effective implementation of the agreements both sides have, he added. He stressed the need to build a mechanism to produce solutions and proposed pilot projects for formation of a joint-monitoring committee and resettlement of IDPs.

While heavy fighting are going on in south eastern Kachin state since early April, both sides have met for talks for the first time. In the face of shaking hands as a show of friendliness in Myitkyina, there was no major breakthrough during the 13-May-talks as Lt. Gen. Myint Soe, the representative of the military boss did not appear at the meeting. Although the meeting was arranged as a two-day conference, it took place only one day.

If the incumbent quasi-civilian government has an evenhanded mindset, it should review the mistakes of the past leaders of the nation. The current President and the higher-ranking select few of the military should sincerely review the political aspiration of the ethnic communities. The late dictator Ne Win, who seized power in a military coup in 1962, did not agree sharing equal power with the respective ethnic representatives-elect, and it remains the same today.

It is a fair demand asking to guarantee self-determination of the respective ethnic minorities. The military-backed government should not use guns to govern the ethnic minorities. The guns will not unite the union of Burma. If we look back to 1960-61, many leaders from the ethnic states criticized the weakness of the constitution as well as the government's failure to realize the political autonomy of the ethnic minorities.

President U Thein Sein's government defends the faith of a single unitary state covers with fake union constitution. "All the armed forces in the union shall be under the command of the Defense Services," says the section 337 of the 2008 constitution. It means the ethnic armed troops are not allowed to be independent but must be under control of the central government's Defense Services as secondary forces.

At the first meeting of the Central Committee of Union Peace-making Central Committee held in July 2012, President U Thein Sein delivered a speech as he's the chairman of the committee. In his speech, President underscored the 'Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizens'. As every national race owns the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma), equitable treatment and opportunities should be granted, he emphasized. It was noteworthy that the President deemed firm political reforms were compulsory for the success of economic reforms.

"And the end of ethnic conflicts is also needed for firm political reforms. It is needed to ease ethnic conflicts and distribute political and economic opportunities equitably," U Thein Sein said.

To carry out political and economic reforms, ease of ethnic conflicts needs to be considered. Only when such reforms are carried out, national reconciliation will be achieved and ethnic conflicts will be ended, U Thein Sein said during the meeting of Peace-making Central Committee.

However, Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Burma Army engaged for quite a lot of times since war broke out on 9 June 2011, a negotiated promising answer to the battle still looks like a far-off option.

KIO has been calling for a true political dialogue for decade-long old warfare. But, U Thein Sein government stays away from political talks since its key interest is to sign a nationwide ceasefire accord rather than solving the root cause of the conflict.

Although the President explained to end of ethnic conflicts as a necessary for firm political reforms, his commander-in-chief has turned a deaf ear to his explanation.

During his speech at Union Peace-making Central Committee meeting, he pointed out a paragraph from the constitution. Section 348 in Chapter (8) Citizen, Fundamental Rights and Duties of the Citizens of the 2008 constitution prescribes, "The Union shall not discriminate any citizen of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, based on race, birth, religion, official position, status, culture, sex and wealth." And Section 347 also goes, "The Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection."

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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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