Civil war in Kachin state of Burma is endlessly going on and producing more and more refugees, IDPs and food shortage as well. Referring local Kachin residents, the Kachinland News said that government's armed forces are continuously pounding villages and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) locations with heavy artillery shells. Minister for the President's office Aung Min himself said in the last Ruili meeting on Oct 30 that 105 mm and 120 mm mortar shells could only be fired by the authorization of Army's Chief-of-Staff of Defense Services in Nay-Pyi-Taw.
The government army continued to reinforce its frontline positions by sending more combat soldiers, ammunition and other essential supplies to continue combat operations in Kachin region. Then it is unquestionable that government army has been launching a hostile offensive at present.
When President Thein Sein met national races affairs ministers from regions and states at the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on September 7, he emphasized that national races live in the country as blood brothers. As a result, he said, they have the basic rights of citizens affirmed in the constitution.
During that occasion, Thein Sein also confessed that border regions still failed to sustain development on education, health, transportation, and the economy due to fragile stability and the problems with rule of law. This has resulted conflicts with ethnic armed groups, he acknowledged.
"Currently, peace negotiations are going on at two levels, the first at region/state concerned. The process at region/state level would be smoother with the participation of all local national races including national races affairs ministers," the President told the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
However, the fierce fighting goes on and both sides suffer several causalities through 17-month old war. Why does the government's military stubbornly stick to this unjust war?
"Serious political dialogue within the framework of a robust peace process must take place to resolve the ongoing conflicts among Burma's ethnic and religious groups. The plight of the Kachin is often overlooked by the international community, and humanitarian conditions are seriously deteriorating in Kachin State and Kachin refugee camps," Trent Franks, a congressman of Arizona and co-chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, wrote an op-ed published by the Washington Times newspaper on Monday. Franks's article underscores the uninterrupted conflict in Kachin state coincided with US President Barack Obama's historic visit to Burma this week.
"Since the Burma Army broke the ceasefire agreement in Kachin State in June 2011, at least 70,000 civilians have been displaced from their villages. The atrocities committed against the Kachin by the Burma Army may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and should be zealously investigated and prosecuted as the evidence warrants," says Trent Franks.
According to the local eyewitnesses, the Burmese army has cruelly attacked Kachin villages, destroyed homes, looted properties, and forced the displacement of tens of thousands of people. Soldiers have threatened and tortured civilians during interrogations and raped women. The army has also used anti-personnel mines. It continues recruiting forced laborers, including immature children on the front lines.
Fighting has heaped on in jade-land Hpakant Township and as a result over 10,000 civilians have been added up to existing 80,000 internally displaced persons. Local villagers fleeing from battle zones have flooded Church compounds and monasteries in Hpakant and Seng Tawng city.
There are about 30,000 IDPs in Burmese government controlled areas and about 60,000 IDPs are currently taking refuge in KIO controlled areas. Several hundreds of civilians continue escaping their native places because of scared of bullets, bombs, forced labors, rape, tortures and violence.
In fact, the government's armed forces are behind war crimes and crimes against humanity. The human rights violations of Burmese soldiers in Kachin State are severe breaches of international laws. It is also the duty of the current government to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of war refugees and internally displaced populations in various ethnic states.
In his commentary, Trent Franks particularly highlights the importance of ethnic representatives' participation in the political dialogue.
Franks says, "Comprehensive and effective dialogue on the overall situation in Burma cannot be conducted without these leaders. Moreover, the U.S. must be careful to take no action that could be interpreted as endorsement of any misconduct or human rights lapses by the Burmese government or President Thein Sein, particularly while the Burmese government is still dominated by the military with a very brutal past".
As Chairman of the Central Committee for Progress of Border Areas and National Races, President Thein Sein gave an address at 1/2011-Meeting held at the President Office in Nay-Pyi-Taw in April. Thein Sein emphasized in his speech that without national unity, the country with over 100 national races cannot enjoy peace and stability. So, the government has to prioritize the national unity, he said.
In contrast, Burma army has been intensifying its strength in Shan, Kachin and Karen States planning to clear out the ethnic armed forces defending their self-determination. President Thein Sein's words and his army's movements are poles apart.
To keep his words of compassion, the first thing President has to do is to order his armed forces to retreat up to the 1994-Ceasefire line. Then, he should persuade his soldiers to support an all-inclusive political dialogue including all ethnic representatives.