News / Asia

    Burma's President Orders Ceasefire in Kachin State

    Burmese people living in Malaysia chant slogans during a protest to condemn the persecutions committed by the Burmese army towards ethnic minorities, near the Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 11, 2011.
    Burmese people living in Malaysia chant slogans during a protest to condemn the persecutions committed by the Burmese army towards ethnic minorities, near the Burmese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 11, 2011.

    Burma's civilian government is surprising skeptics of its commitment to reforms by ordering the military to stop its campaign against armed ethnic groups in eastern border areas. The move follows pressure from the international community to make peace.

    Burmese state media carried at statement from the government’s National Human Rights Commission, confirming reports President Thein Sein instructed the military on December 10 to cease its offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

    The six-month conflict in Kachin state began with a dispute about a joint venture dam project with China on the Dabein River. Burmese troops have been gradually closing in on the KIA headquarters in Laiza.

    Despite the ceasefire announcement, KIA officials say fighting continues on the front lines and reinforcement troops are arriving.

    "This is welcome," said Henry Hkaung, an advisor to the KIA's chief of staff.  "But the problem is although Thein Sein has encouraged the army to stop offensive fighting, military offensives are still going on and mostly increasing the number in all parts of the state. The fighting on the front line is still going on, so the military does not listen to Thein Sein's order."

    Kachin state is largely made up of hilly jungle terrain, and the KIA and Burmese soldiers have laid land mines, complicating the prospect of a retreat, which could take weeks or months to complete.

    The announcement follows the United Nation’s first mission to the area, where more than 30,000 people have been displaced since the conflict began.

    U.N. spokesperson Aye Win said the team hoped to distribute aid to the people fleeing fighting living in temporary camps, but also do a more in-depth assessment of needs.  

    He stressed his group's programs in Burma remain underfunded.

    "This is the first time that a delivery could be made to Laiza and we hope that we will be able to provide further assistance for the delivery as and when it's needed, as the situation calls for, but the situation of stocks and supplies within the country is quite dire right now and we try to mobilize as much as we can to be able to replenish stocks and be able to provide more assistance as is needed," said Aye Win.

    The Burmese government has also sent a four-person team of observers to assess the situation. The National Human Rights Commission said it visited people affected by the conflict in government controlled areas, but did not access KIA controlled areas.

    "Because this is the only way that can bring about peace and restoration of security and law and order in the region so I think this deserved to be welcomed by the commission and not only that we also strongly urge the KIA to reciprocate the gesture of the president," said Win Mra, head of the NHRC.

    Win Mra says the team did not investigate allegations that the Burmese military has committed war crimes or other human-rights abuses.

    Outside aid groups that have visited the conflict area in recent months have reported finding evidence of soldiers looting food from civilians, firing indiscriminately into villages and using villagers as human minesweepers and porters.

    Win Mra said he had not read the reports, but dismissed the allegations.

    "We do not have definite evidence," he said. "There may be pictures. The problem is that normally these allegations are directed in places where fighting is taking place. Normally, the standard allegation is use of rape as a weapon of war, but our mission was mainly concerned with the humanitarian aspect."

    Although ceasefire negotiations between the government and the KIA have so far not ended hostilities, other armed ethnic groups along the border including the Shan State Army South and one faction of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army have recently brokered deals.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora