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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid