Kachin Groups Appeal for Peace ahead of KIO-Govt Talks
18 January 2012: A group of ten Kachin civil society organizations has appealed for peace and the protection of civilians in the ongoing armed conflict ahead of the planned peace talks between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Burmese government this week.
The Kahcin groups from a wide range of civil society organizations on Tuesday released a joint statement calling on different actors to ensure that genuine peace can be achieved out of the latest negotiation between the KIO and the Burmese government.
“The people of Kachin State have repeatedly attempted to engage in Burma’s political processes during the 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) and successive Burmese regimes. However, we have never been given the opportunity to hold political dialogue with these regimes or with Thein Sein’s government,’’ complains the ten civil society groups.
Targeting a wide range of actors, the group made a set of recommendations to the Burmese government, the KIO, ordinary Burmese citizens, civil society groups and the United Nations to help resolve the ongoing armed conflict, which they argue is rooted in the political issue.
“We encourage all citizens to learn about the root causes of ethnic conflict in order to overcome the government’s publication of misrepresentative information about ethnic peoples’ struggle for equality and self-determination, as in the state-run media,“ says the statement endorsed by Kancin civil society groups that include women, student, youth, development, environment and media organizations.
Noting the suffering of civilian victims of the conflict, the group also urged the United Nations to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure that both parties of the conflict observe any ceasefire agreement that may come out of the latest peace talks. They also urged the UN to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of war crimes in northern Burma.
The Burma Army is accused of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws by rights groups during the eight-month long conflict following the failure of a 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin and the Burmese government.
Rights groups such as New York-based Human Rights Watch have accused the Burma Army of committing war crimes, including summary execution and the targeting of civilian population in its ongoing war against the ethnic rebels. The Burma Army has also been implicated in the use of chemical weapons in the offensives against the ethnic armed groups.
The Burma Army has so far defied the orders of President Thein Sein in December to halt military offensives against the Kachins.
The ten civil society organizations urge Thein Sein’s administration to allow access for humanitarian organizations to help war-displaced populations and to address the political root cause underlying the ongoing conflict.
Meanwhile, the KIO on Monday issued a public notification saying they have decided to meet with the Burmese government peace delegation in the hope that peace can be achieved for the sake of the people.
“War is only a result of political discord. The KIO believes that the cessation of conflict and the establishment of peace can only be achieved through political means,” says the KIO in its Monday’s statement.
The ten Kachin civil society organizations include All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU), BRIDGE, Kachin Centre, Kachin Development Networking Group, Kachin Environmental Organization, Kachin National Organization, Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand, Kachin News Group, Life Vision Foundation and Pan Kachin Development Society.