» 09/13/2013, 00.00
Naypyidaw optimistic about cease-fire with rebels, Kachin say peace is "illusion"
Francis Khoo Thwe
By the end of October, the Burmese government plans to sign a joint nationwide agreement. Talks next week with Kachin leaders crucial. Meanwhile, skirmishes continue between military and militias. Violence and police abuses against the civilian population .
Yangon (AsiaNews) - The Burmese
government is " optimistic" about the possibility of reaching a joint
ceasefire on a national scale, which will affect "all" armed rebel
groups in the country, by the end of next month. So
says an executive consultant in Naypyidaw, according to who - "fingers
crossed" - next week's talks with
Kachin rebels will be " crucial " in achieving a "turning
point" . However,
in spite of the official announcements the situation remains critical as
sources in the Northern State refer to AsiaNews. They confirm clashes between
the Burmese army and Kachin rebel militia members . In
recent days there was an escalation in tension and a return to large-scale
conflict cannot be ruled out.
United Nationalities Federal Council
( Unfc ), a federation of 11 armed rebel groups in Myanmar, stressed that the
peace process can not continue without an agreement between the government and
Kachin . Last
May, the Kachin Independence Organization
( Kio ) and the central government - which wants to reach a truce with all 16
minority groups - signed a preliminary agreement between their armed forces to
stem the violence, but it was not successful .
Maung Shwe , government consultant at Myanmar's Peace Center , reported that the much longed for national ceasefire
may soon arrive. "If
all goes well on both sides [government and Kio members, the only ethnic group
that has not reached a peace agreement ] , the talks at a national level will
be held in Myitkyina [capital of Kachin State ] the first week of October
, however, battles continue on the ground with dead and wounded on both sides. AsiaNews
sources in Kachin State report of a bitter battle between a battalion of 50
men from the Kachin Independence Army
(KIA ) and a group of soldiers from the Burmese army , which took place on 10
September in the southern state . The
clash lasted for over six hours and caused the death of an Army officer. According to the Kachin the battle was
sparked by the Burmese troops invading ( with artillery shells ) an area
guarded by the rebels. "We
are on the third day of battle - says a resident of the area - things are not
going well and peace remains a mere illusion". A
cease-fire at the national level , he adds, will only be "waste paper
" if the Burmese army does not stop fighting.
a second incident , five officers of the Burmese police from Myitkyina division
detained an ethnic Kachin boy of 16 - for no reason -, torturing him to extort
a confession relating to a crime he did not commit. The
young man was beaten, kicked and punched, causing serious injuries. He
was released after a few days of captivity and now is in a serious condition ,
although it is not life threatening . It
is not the first time Burmese officers and security agents blatantly violate
and abuse the Kachin civilian population.
current fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army
(KIA), the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), broke out
in 2011, causing dozens of civilian casualties and displacing at least 100,000
people, mostly Kachin civilians. The leaders of the independence movement and
representatives of President Thein Sein's semi-civilian central government have
met on several occasions but have failed so far to reach tangible and lasting
results. A final ceasefire has yet to be worked out. However, fighting has
reached the KIO's southern division, as well as a northern area of Shan
State, not far from the Shwe Gas Pipeline, a key component in the strategic
Peace plan at risk as three ethnic groups threaten to quit talks
The decision comes after repeated government army attacks. Military operations complicate the already "fragile" peace talks. Naypyidaw government pressuring other groups to exclude "rebel" movements. New conflict between the Burmese and Kachin leaders.
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