News / Asia

    In Burmese Ethnic Conflict, Calls for Peace Do Little to Break Standoff

    In this photo taken  April 17, 2010, recruits of the Kachin Independence Army, one of Burma's largest armed ethnic groups, go through battle drills at a training camp near Laiza, Burma.
    In this photo taken April 17, 2010, recruits of the Kachin Independence Army, one of Burma's largest armed ethnic groups, go through battle drills at a training camp near Laiza, Burma.

    Burmese President Thien Sein has called on ethnic militias currently fighting government troops in Burma to hold peace talks with respective state governments -- not the central government -- in a bid to end months of conflict that has displaced as many as 50,000 people in eastern and northern states.

    That demand is part of a broader set of policies that analysts say are uniting ethnic militias against the central government.

    Speaking to a group of businessmen and members of parliament on Wednesday, the president also accused the ethnic Kachin militia of terrorism and insisted that Burmese troops are only acting defensively in the fighting.

    The Kachin milita is part of a broader political alliance of ethnic groups formed in February that includes the Shan, Karen, Mon and Karenni.

    Aung Zaw, editor of the Chiang Mai-based Irrawaddy newspaper, says the ethnic armies are more united than in the past because the government has been insisting on a policy to force them to join border patrol forces.

    “This is a major blunder from the side of the government: they proposed it and all the ethnic groups [said] we couldn’t accept it because we are not fighting to be an ethnic border guard force or militia. [They said] we want autonomy, we want the respect for the Federal Union [of Burma]. I think this is the source of the problem," Aung Zaw says.

    The ethnic militias have demanded that any peace talks must include their whole alliance and must be conducted with the central government, which senior officials have dismissed.

    While the impasse over peace talks continues, both the government and Kachin rights groups accuse each other of attacks and human rights abuses.

    Earlier this month, a group of female U.S. senators said Burma’s military is using rape as a weapon of war in the Kachin fighting as well as armed conflict in neighboring Shan state.  Moon Nay Li is a spokeswoman for the Kachin Women’s Association, a rights group in Kachin state.

    “There are many kinds of abuses by the Burmese military troops, one is portering [sic], one is the gang rape to the girl, women and those who are related to the KI [Kachin Independence] Army, they did not ask questions, they arrest. That is illegal arrest. Most villages are afraid of that kind of human rights violations so they flee,” she says.

    Some 20,000 Kachin have fled to 15 camps along the China-Burma border. The Shan rights group, the Shan Democratic Union, in a statement, said over 30,000 people had been displaced since fighting began in Shan state in March.

    Sally Thompson, a deputy director with the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), which assists over 140,000 Burmese in refugee camps in Thailand, says international aid requests to remote areas have been turned down by Burma’s government.

    She says the breakdown of a years-long ceasefire with the ethnic groups is an indication that there is little hope for peace talks.

    “These areas have been in relative peace and now because they haven’t agreed to the demands to transfer to border guard forces there is no dialogue," Thompson says. "It’s just being met with force.”

    Next week, U.N. human rights investigator Tomas Quintana is expected to visit Burma to hold talks with senior officials to assess the human rights situation in the context of the new government.

    It is the first time in more than a year that Burmese officials have granted him a visa.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora