News / Asia

Despite Cease-Fire, Fighting Continues in Burma's Kachin State

A rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 3rd Brigade soldier stands guard as they secure an area on Hka Ya mountain in Kachin province on January 20, 2013.
A rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 3rd Brigade soldier stands guard as they secure an area on Hka Ya mountain in Kachin province on January 20, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Sporadic fighting has continued between Burma's army and ethnic Kachin rebels in Burma's north Kachin state, despite a government-declared unilateral cease-fire.  An eyewitness tells VOA that Burmese soldiers appeared to use a brief lull in hostilities after the declaration to advance on rebel positions.  The close proximity of combatants is complicating efforts for peace talks.

President Thein Sein announced the cease-fire through state television, saying it would take effect on Saturday morning for the La Ja Yang area near the China border.  

But, the rebel Kachin Independence Army says Burma soldiers attacked their positions in the days that followed using heavy artillery and machine guns.

Ryan Roco is a freelance photographer working in Kachin state for the past three months.  Speaking to VOA from the trenches behind KIA lines, he could see smoke from mortar attacks.

"The situation is tense.  We are hearing sporadic shelling now, occasional gunfire.  And, heavy fighting is expected at any moment," Roco said.

The photographer says there was a brief lull in fighting Saturday after the declared cease-fire and that airstrikes did appear to have stopped.  However, he says shelling quickly resumed in the afternoon and KIA fired on advancing Burma soldiers.

"I think it would be more correct to say that fighting never actually ceased.  I think that fighting quieted but I don't think fighting ever ceased from the Burmese side," Roco said. "Yesterday, when fighting began heavily at twelve o'clock, it was initiated as Burmese troops advanced towards KIA lines on Hkaya Bum, which is the last major defense mountaintop post outside of Laiza."

Roco says he is about two kilometers from Hkaya Bum and five kilometers from the rebel capital Laiza.

Min Zaw Oo is director of cease-fire negotiations and implementation at the Myanmar Peace Center in Rangoon.  He says the proximity of opposing fighters, some within 300 meters of each other, has made a unilateral cease-fire difficult to enforce.

"Before they can talk about the repositioning, their units, they got to talk about how to effectively start the cease-fire," Min said.  "Because, the unilateral cease-fire in realty, when the troops are in very close position, is very hard because if one side shoot the other side gonna shoot back.  That will create a tit-for-tat retaliation."

Since taking office, Burma's reform-minded President Thein Sein has overseen peace deals with all ethnic rebel groups except the Kachin.

The KIA wants to maintain a high-level of autonomy while the government is pushing for more federal control.

Fighting between the Burma army and KIA broke out in June 2011, ending a 17-year-old cease-fire and displacing tens of thousands of villagers.  

In December Burma warned the KIA to stop disrupting supply routes.  Authorities accuse the KIA of bombing trains, roads and police stations.  The military backed up its threat with attacks on rebel positions with jet fighters and helicopter gunships.

Min Zaw Oo says despite the intense and ongoing fighting parties on both sides know the conflict cannot be resolved on the battlefield.

"What we're trying to do is we're trying to bring the parties, especially those people responsible for the military from both sides," Min explained, "come to the table, spread the map, look at the positions, and start thinking how they can stop fighting effectively."

President Thein Sein on Saturday invited the political wing of the KIA, the Kachin Independence Organization, to political talks with other ethnic groups.

He told an international donor and humanitarian aid conference his government is serious about efforts at peace.

Min Zaw Oo says if fighting spills into Laiza it could trigger huge refugee flows into China.  

Since December several shells have landed along or inside Chinese territory, sparking calls from Beijing for stability along the border.

China in recent days sent a military delegation and a special envoy to Burma to discuss issues including border security.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Williams from: USA
January 22, 2013 10:29 AM
Even though China has created camps, It appears that they will not allow the Kachin refugees to enter China if Laiza falls. If that is the case, the slaughter of innocents will be astounding. Let us not claim we didn't know this would happen.


by: kian from: indiana
January 21, 2013 9:42 PM
Burma generals/leaders and president are the same group. In Fact , they are Liars , they are not Shame for LIES because they think they are Smart because most Western Countries Leaders and Peoples are easily believes in their Lies.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid