Why is peace-process in Burma too difficult to reach its objective? The civil war has broken out together with the country’s independence since 1948. The cost of the civil war pulls Burma down into an abysmal gorge of poverty. Besides, the war caused the nation least developed country. Burma’s admittance to Least Developed Country status by the UN-OHRLLS in 1987 brought to light its economic bankruptcy.
Under British administration, Burma was the second-wealthiest country in South-East Asia. It had been the world’s largest exporter of rice. Burma also had a wealth of natural and labour resources. It produced 75% of the world’s teak and had a highly literate population.The country was believed to be on the fast track to development, David Steinberg, a distinguished Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, said in one of his research papers.
Under the military dictatorship for decades, Burma becomes known as a natural gas and teak seller and its socioeconomic conditions have gone downhill under the soldiers’ unprofessional management. The military monopolized economy makes most of the public in poverty, while military leaders and their cronies exploiting the country’s abundant natural resources. In 2010-11, the state properties, especially real estate, were transferred to relatives of military authorities under the guise of a privatization policy. It became wider gap between the military-backed privileged first-class and the ordinary population.
After President Thein Sein took office, the quasi-civilian government looks as if ignoring its own promises – good governance, national reconciliation, poverty alleviation etc. – made during the presidential inaugural ceremony. The president needs to stop civil war against ethnic rebels to implement good governance, national reconciliation and poverty alleviation. His government also requires honoring ethnic people’s equal rights and self-determination so as to stop the war.
<<<President U Thein Sein met chairpersons and general secretaries of Group of Friends of Democracy Parties on 18 July, 2012 in Naypyitaw. PHOTO: From President’s Office Website
How much time does President Thein Sein need to create national reunion, a transition to democracy and full respect for human rights? The cost of further delay will be paid in thousands of innocent lives, lost opportunities and prolonged civil war. If the government has a true political reform plan, first, it should declare a one-sided ceasefire to show benevolence towards war victims and innocent civilians. Government must take into consideration that this war actually is wasting many lives of the country’s manpower.
The most suspicious question is the act of Burma Army that does not recognize the peace making process of its government. Currently, Burma Army has been launching a military operation against the Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ in the Loi Ye mountain range, Namzang township since 30 July, referring SSA sources, Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.
The campaign was launched by the Faikhun (Pekhon) based Military Operations Command (MOC) 7, most of whose units are based either in Kayah or Shan-Kayah border. Light Infantry Battalions 422 (based in Mongpai, Kayah) and 425 (based in Banyen, Shan-Kayah border) are reported among them.
Meanwhile, a team of the SSA forestry officials led by Sai Leng was also attacked on 31 July by an unidentified Burmese unit near Nawng Ler, southwest of Mongpan, where the MOC 17 is based.
“We have lodged protest with U Aung Min (Vice Chairman, Union Peacemaking Work Committee), and demanded an explanation as well as an immediate end to the hostilities,” said Lt-Gen Yawdserk, leader of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the SSA South’s political wing.
The group had reached a ceasefire agreement with Thein Sein Government on 2 December. Since then there were more than 27 clashes between SSA and the Burma Army. The two sides are scheduled to hold a 4th formal meeting this month, Shan Herald Agency for News said.
In addition, skirmishing between the Karen National Liberation Army and the government’s Border Guard Force broke out on August 5, in Mae Seik village, Papun Township in northern Karen State, the Karen News Said. Four BGF soldiers killed and two KNLA soldiers wounded.
The conflict took place on the same day as the Karen National Union delegates and government representatives met in the Burma border town of Myawaddy, to outline details concerning negotiations on a ‘cease-fire code of conduct’. Naw Zipporah Sein, secretary of the Karen National Union, told Karen News that the incident might be caused by a ‘weakness of command’.
According to the Kachinland News , a fierce battle took place on 3 August, between KIA’s 15th Battalion and Burmese army’s 319th LIB at Lung Rawng Kawng junction near Tapein power plant. Another battle took place the same day near Loije hill between KIA’s 27th Battalion and government army’s 320th LIB.
On 4 August, KIA’s 15th Battalion under 3rd Brigade thwarted advancing governmet army’s 237th LIR near Chyahkan Dap village. On the same day, KIA’s 5th Brigade soldiers fought against Burmese army’s 320th LIB between Mung Mu and Nawng Nang village, Kachinland News said.
In fact, human rights violations of Burmese soldiers in ethnic states are serious 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.
The biggest question in Burma is the armed forces fail to recognize the truces with ethnic rebels made by their own government. It’s not clear, the government is saying one thing and doing another, or the soldiers themselves are going against their head of state.