Tuesday, June 16, 2009

KIA troops take to forests for possible war with Burmese Army

Written by KNG

Troops of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are going into the forests from their army battalions in Burma's northern Kachin State for a possible war with the Burmese Army. This, despite having accepted the junta's strategy of transforming the armed-wing in principle, said local sources.

Columns of KIA soldiers are heading for the frontline. The KIA’s activity is mainly concentrated in the areas around Laiza, the headquarters and the border trade centre of KIA and its political wing the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said sources close to KIA soldiers.

A KIO serviceman of the KIA 3rd Brigade in Bhamo district told KNG, "Now, all KIA soldiers are entering the bushes. Many KIA soldiers have fanned out around the KIO/A headquarters in Laiza on the Sino-Burma border."

An eyewitness told KNG today, she surprisingly saw several columns of Burmese Army soldiers on the road between Bhamo and Kai Htik, the border trade route between China and Burma in Bhamo district.

All KIA soldiers are equipped with sophisticated guns and ammunition. They have been ordered to standby 24 hours in their army bases, KIA sources said.

The KIA’s preparation is to defend itself from the Burmese troops. It is not offensive in nature, according to KIA officials.

Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of KIA reiterated that the junta's proposal of transforming KIA into a battalion of border guard force before the end of this year is a load of nonsense. The KIA’s transformation will be considered after all political problems between the KIO and the junta are resolved.

On the other hand, political leaders of the KIO met the junta's army officials at least twice on transforming the KIA in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in the last two weeks, said KIO/A's headquarter sources.

As of now, Kachin political leaders are against the junta's proposal of transforming KIA to a battalion of a border guard force. All Kachin political organizations, Kachin university students in the entire country and Kachin people both inside Burma and abroad are against this move.

The KIA is one of strongest ethnic armed groups in the country because it connects with all Kachin people and is supported by all Kachins in Burma and abroad.

Unless the political problems are resolved first, the transformation of KIA is unacceptable for both KIA and the Kachin people.

READ MORE---> KIA troops take to forests for possible war with Burmese Army...

Showdown in the Wa capital

By Hseng Khio Fah

(SHAN) -More details on the meeting between leaders of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Burma’s junta negotiators on the question of transforming the former into a border security force have emerged, according to a reliable source close to the Wa leadership on the Sino-Burma border.

The UWSA hotly rejected the junta’s proposal to transform itself into 326 strong units when its leaders and Military Affairs Security (MAS) chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint met on 7 June, at its main base in Panghsang from 14:00-17:00.

An unidentified Wa commanders during the meeting rhetorically asked, “How is it so easy for you to break the solemn promises given to us by your former leader General Khin Nyunt?”

He compared the Wa situation to the ongoing trial of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“You even dare to arrest and imprison the daughter of your national hero and leader General Aung San despite international pressure,” the officer was quoted as saying. “Our future could be even worse than hers as we are not from the same race. No one knows what future is there for us if we give in to your demands.”

The Wa leaders also reconfirmed that it could not withdraw its troops along the Thai-Burma border as it had made huge sacrifices not only in terms of lives but also finances.

The junta told the Wa last month to become a border security force and to withdraw from three strategic positions, opposite Chiangmai province.

The group recalled how the junta military had made promises to them during the war against the Mong Tai Army (MTA) leader Khun Sa, between 1989 and 1996, and Shan State Army (SSA) “South” in 2005.

“You said we would be free to occupy Khun Sa’ areas, if we could remove its troops. We lost tens of thousands of soldiers in order to seize those areas,” the officer was reported as saying, “We had always agreed to your demands in the past. But from now on we can no longer follow your conflicting orders.

Lt-Gen Ye Myint responded by saying that the proposal represented the wishes of their Head of State Senior Gen Than Shwe. “We are only messengers. We can’t make decisions.”

Since April, the junta military has been pressuring all ceasefire groups across Burma to transform into border guard forces which will be commanded by the ceasefire officers but supervised by the Burma Army officers. So far, a total of 8 out of the 13 existing ceasefire groups have rejected the demand, according to a survey made by SHAN.

READ MORE---> Showdown in the Wa capital...

Shan ceasefire army putting out feelers

(S.H.A.N) - Taking a cue from its allies, Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the Hsipaw-based Shan State Army (SSA) “North” has been conducting public hearings to determine the opinion of its troops and their civilian supporters, according to a source close to the SSA leadership.

Maj-Gen Gaifa

Following the meeting with Lt-Gen Ye Myint, Naypyitaw’s chief negotiator, on 3 June, when they had asked him to defer the question of transforming itself into a border security force under the command of the Burma Army until after a future civilian government has been formed, the group’s second in command Maj-Gen Gaifa has been holding meetings with the officers and local people’s representatives:

10-11 June at Wanhai, Kehsi township, base of the First Brigade
13-14 June at Kali, Kunhing township, base of the Seventh Brigade

The majority of the participants was said to have roundly rejected the proposition.

“The question whether we should accept or not shouldn’t have been asked in the first place,” an officer was quoted as saying. “We took up the struggle, because our people’s wishes were not fulfilled. We are still resistance fighters as long as the people’s wishes remain unfulfilled, whether or not there is a ceasefire agreement.”

Another officer also said they would fight without waiting for orders from the SSA main base Hsengkeow “when the time comes.” “Clearly, Gaifa’s mission was doomed from the start,” he commented. “The outcome of the hearings has come to no surprise to me.”

The junta negotiators also appeared to be playing one group against another, a divide-and-rule tactic, he said. “We were surprised when Mongla called us and asked whether it was true that we had agreed to become a border security force, as they had heard it from the junta’s middlemen. We replied that was the same thing we had heard about Mongla, when we met Gen Ye Myint and his delegation.” (JEG's: SPDC putting the kids against each other... nice try Ricardito... nice try...)

At least 8 of the existing 13 ceasefire groups have already turned down the Border Guard Force idea, since it was introduced in April. According to a source on the border, Naypyitaw is already drafting a new proposal.

READ MORE---> Shan ceasefire army putting out feelers...

Kachin Recruiting Drive Launched as Tension Mounts

The Irrawaddy News

The military wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is recruiting former soldiers as tension builds over the Burmese regime’s instruction to ceasefire groups to reassign their troops as border guards.

A Kachin military source said the recruitment drive by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) was to heighten the force’s preparedness. “We are alert and ready to open fire if our leaders order it,” he said.

Kachin Independent Army soldiers patrolling their own administered territory inside Hukawng Valley in Kachin State. (Photo: Steve Winter / National Geographic Image Collection)

The five infantry brigades of the KIA stationed in Kachin State and Northern Shan State have more than 4,000 troops. The KIA also has a mobile brigade and has built a military academy and officer training school near the border town of Laiza, where the KIO has its headquarters.

Local residents in the Sino-Burmese border region say young recruits have been sent to KIA’s military training schools.

“It seems that the KIA prepares for war,” said a Laiza resident.

KIA sources and local residents believe the KIA recruiting drive is related to the government order to transform the KIA into a new border guard force, the Border Security Force.

A KIO delegation led by the KIO's Vice-Chairman Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng discussed the order with the junta's Northern Regional Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina on April 28.

The proposed border force would have 326 troops, including three Burmese army officers and twenty seven other ranks.

The KIA military source said the government plan was opposed by KIA commanders, the Kachin Consultative Council and by the Kachin people as a whole.

The KIA source quoted the KIA chief of staff, Maj-Gen Gam Shawng Gunhtang, as saying “the KIA will not transform into a Border Security Force until political issues with the junta are solved.”

Another KIA source said senior KIO leaders had been travelling through Kachin State and Northern Shan State to gather public opinion about the government proposal.

“The KIO’s vice chairman 1, Dr. La Ja, went to KIA’s Brigade 4 area in Northern Shan State, where most people opposed the plan,” said the source.

The KIO reached a ceasefire with the regime in 1994. The organization runs local security, education, immigration and some other areas of self-government.

It also runs various businesses, collecting taxes at border crossings with China and overseeing the exploitation of natural resources such as jade, timber and gold.

READ MORE---> Kachin Recruiting Drive Launched as Tension Mounts...

Suu Kyi’s Detention Affects Asean’s Credibility: Thai PM


If the junta fails to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (Asean) credibility will be “affected inevitably,” Thai Prime Minster Abhisit Vejajjiva told The Far Eastern Economic Review recently.

During the Far Eastern Economic View’s interview published on Tuesday, 16 June, Abhisit, who is now chairman of Asean, said Burma’s political process will have to be inclusive to gain the acceptability and respectability of the international community.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, center, is surrounded by security guards. (Photo: AP)

However, the Thai PM said the Burma issue is the responsibility of the international community and not just Asean.

“I think it would be unfair to single out Asean and I think the whole international community puts in an effort and if its not succeeding, why single out Asean?” he said.

“On the contrary, we think that Asean has helped to facilitate possible channels and processes by which the situation there can be resolved and we’ll continue to do that,” he said, adding that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would also play a role in the issue.

Commenting on Burma’s membership with Asean, Abhisit said Asean did not want to isolate or alienate the Burmese military further.

“I doubt that that would make the situation better now,” Abhisit said, stating that it would be wrong to say it was the fault of Asean that things were not going as well as people would like.

“We accept our responsibility and we’re doing what we can,” he said.

Answering a question about how confident Asean’s was of Suu Kyi’s release, Abhisit said: “It’s difficult to say. It’s difficult for anybody to say with certainty.”

Abhisit said that what Asean is looking at more is the direction that Than Shwe and the leadership of Burma will take, which clearly begins with how the trial plays out.

“So we’ll watch that,” Abhisit said.

READ MORE---> Suu Kyi’s Detention Affects Asean’s Credibility: Thai PM...

Mystery Surrounds North Korean Tunnel-building in Burma

The Irrawaddy News

North Korea has been helping Burma build an extensive network of tunnels in its new capital, Naypyidaw, and in Shan State, as an underground shelter for the government and “for other unknown purposes,” according to the Burma expert and author Bertil Lintner.

Lintner obtained photographs believed to show North Korean experts employed on the secret project, and they illustrate an article he wrote for the US Web site YaleGlobal online.

In an interview with The Irrawaddy, Lintner discusses developments pointing to a closer relationship between North Korea and Burma:

Bertil Lintner

Question: We have seen your recent article in Yale Global online magazine on North Korea’s involvement in tunnel construction. What do you know about tunnels being built around Naypyidaw and in Shan State? Do you think the Burmese junta is worried about foreign invasion or are the generals just paranoid?

Answer: There has been a lot of digging and tunneling since the SPDC decided to move the capital to Naypyidaw. This is hardly surprising as most governments prefer to have certain more sensitive activities out of sight of preying eyes. Even the government of the United States does that.

Some of the tunneling is also fairly innocent and connected with the construction of new hydroelectric power projects in the area. But then there are underground meeting halls as well as underground storage facilities.

This may well reflect the regime's paranoia. They are afraid of US air strikes similar to those against Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. This fear may be totally unjustified, but it's there.

And then, of course, there is always the possibility of a new uprising against the regime. The regime has not forgotten that, in 1988, several government buildings were taken over by anti-government demonstrators. It is quite clear that the military feels much more secure in their new capital, both above and under ground.

Q: Analysts believe that a closer relationship between the regimes of North Korea and Burma is cause for concern. What do you think would be the consequences of a further warming of their relationship?

A: The alleged North Korean involvement in designing and/or building the underground installations in and near Naypyidaw is important. The North Koreans are excellent tunnel-builders, having moved most of their defense installations in their own country underground and dug tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone that separates North from South Korea.

Unlike the SPDC's other business partners, who want to be paid in cash, the North Koreans usually accept barter trade agreements. That suits the SPDC as well.

And both North Korea and Burma are ruled by regimes that have been condemned internationally for human rights abuses and other forms of repression. It is quite natural that the Burmese and North Korean governments "have found" each other. And with the memories of the 1983 Rangoon bombing fading rapidly, it is plausible to assume that we will see more and closer cooperation between Burma and North Korea.

But the rest of the region is definitely not pleased with this development, and it remains to be seen what action the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will take, if any, to pull Burma away from North Korea.

Q: Burma has bought a nuclear reactor from Russia but nothing has since been heard about the project. While the regime says the project has a peaceful purpose, it is interesting to note that Burma’s fledgling nuclear program, with Russian assistance, and its mysterious connections to North Korea arouse only suspicion and concern in the region. According to Burmese exiles in Thailand, the Russians and North Koreans are assisting the Burmese in developing nuclear capability. How do you view these suspicions and concerns?

A: I think many outsiders are very concerned about all sorts of cooperation between the North Koreans and the Burmese authorities, but if that also included cooperation in the nuclear field, I think many countries in the region and beyond would be alarmed. There are numerous reports of such cooperation, and lots of rumors. But we have to wait for some firmer confirmation before we can draw any conclusions.

Q: In the past three years, North Korean ships have made mysterious visits to ports in Burma. We have established that North Korea has been providing conventional weaponry, including missiles, to the Naypyidaw regime. Since diplomatic relations were restored between North Korea and Burma in 2007 we have seen a flurry of official and unofficial visits by Burmese officials to the North Korean capital. How do you assess these visits and mysterious port calls?

A: We don't know what kind of cargo those ships were carrying, but, judging from eyewitness reports, it seems to have been very heavy. And the official explanation that the ships had to seek shelter from bad weather in the Bay of Bengal is not credible. I checked all relevant weather reports during, before and after the North Korean ships arrived in Burma, and the weather was fine. The fact that the authorities feel compelled to lie about this indicated that they've got something to hide. The ships could have carried heavy weaponry, some kind of machinery or something else. We just don't know.

READ MORE---> Mystery Surrounds North Korean Tunnel-building in Burma...

Burmese Activists Ask Ban Ki-moon for Help

The Irrawaddy News

Former Burmese political prisoners have delivered a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on him to seek the release of all Burmese political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The request comes after 48-year-old Salai Hla Moe, a member of the National League for Democracy, died in a Burmese prison in May.

Family members of Salai Hla Moe were informed by prison authorities almost three weeks after his death. He leaves behind a wife and four children, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP).

Approximately 680,000 signatures were collected within 10 weeks in one the largest global coordinated actions ever for Burma.

Tate Naing, the secretary of the AAPP, said, “How many more political prisoners have to die before the UN will act? I urge Mr. Ban Ki-moon to accept nothing less than the immediate and unconditional release of all of Burma's political prisoners in his current negotiations with the regime.”

“He must not allow any more delay. Political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are the hope for democracy and the future leaders of our country. Their lives are at stake," said Tate Naing.

About 140 political prisoners have died in prison since 1988 while more than 2,100 political prisoners are held in Burmese prisons and in labor camps.

A delegation member, Nyi Nyi Aung, who has relatives currently in prison, said, “To Ban Ki-moon, my message is simple: ‘Your words show you take this issue seriously. But now I want to see what action you will take to secure the release of my family and all of Burma's political prisoners.’”

Nyi Nyi Aung’s mother and two cousins are serving jail terms of up to 65 years for their pro-democracy activities.

READ MORE---> Burmese Activists Ask Ban Ki-moon for Help...

Thai Army Chief denies presence of KNU soldiers among refugees

by Usa Pichai

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) Thailand’s Army Chief has insisted that no armed group has entered Thai territory, after the recent clashes between the armed wing of the Karen National Union and the Burmese Army.

Thailand’s Army Chief, Gen Anupong Phaochinda, said that Karen villagers from Burma, had escaped to Thailand, but there were no reports that KNU soldiers had also fled to Pobphra district of Thailand.

“We raised surveillance to prevent infiltration by armed groups and also to prevent cross-border exchange of fire. Recently, the villagers were worried about their safety because some bullets went astray on the Thai side. When the local Thai villagers feel confident about their safety, they will return home,” he is believed to have said, according to a report in Thai newspaper, Matichon, on Monday.

Lieutenant General Thanongsak Apirakyothin, Thailand’s Third Army Chief, has said regarding the current conflict near the Thailand and Burma border, that he believed the battle would be over soon and in that case the Burmese Army and the rebels should remove their troops.

Thanongsak said that Thai villagers, who were affected due to the fighting were relocated to safer areas, which was provided by local authorities and security officials. “The number of refugees is estimated at 2,800 but not more than 3,000 people have been sent to shelters on the Thai side. Mainly they are women and children and none of them are suspected soldiers or porters from the armed group,” he added.

Thai health officials from Thasongyang districts of Tak province have set up a medical center, to provide health check ups for about 3,000 Karen villagers, who escaped from conflict-torn Burma, and who currently are in Mae Song and Mae U-Su villages, since June 2. About 50 refugees suffered from diaorrhea, malaria and respiratory diseases. The officials have asked for more medicine from the provincial health office, because it is unlikely that the refugees can return home in the near future due to the ongoing battle.

The European Union last week expressed “serious concern” over the mounting military offensive by the Burmese Army and its allies against the Karen National Liberation Army, which has resulted in large numbers of civilians in eastern Burma fleeing to neighbouring Thailand.

However, the Burmese military junta "categorically rejected" the European Union’s concerns over a growing offensive against the Karen armed group, state media said on Sunday.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper quoted the Burmese military regime's Foreign Ministry’s statement that said Myanmar was "disappointed with the politically motivated declaration of the EU presidency, which was released without a thorough study of Myanmar's insurgency problem".

"Therefore, the Ministry categorically rejects the factually incorrect declaration made by the EU presidency, relying on inaccurate information originated from the insurgent groups and biased media reports," it said.

15 June 2009

READ MORE---> Thai Army Chief denies presence of KNU soldiers among refugees...

Dream of Burmese Generals

by Mizzima News

(Editorial)- Despite the UN Security Council’s threat of imposing sanctions, the Communist dictatorship of North Korea is defiant and is going ahead with its plan of becoming a nuclear weapons state.

Since the 1990s the economy of North Korea with a population of 23 million has been deteriorating and millions of its people are on the brink of famine. But the ostentatious and recalcitrant leader Kim Jung-il does not care, for he cares only about his plutonium weapons.

At the same time, south of the Korea peninsular is developing and is heading for the top slot in Asia. The people of South Korea can enjoy one of the highest living standards in the world. But in the North, the leader, a fan of Hollywood movies, is talking of principles of self-reliance repeatedly and using public money only for building its military strength. The GDP of North Korea is less than 3 per cent of South Korea.

After the nuclear bomb test on May 25, the UNSC unanimously voted for a resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea. But the North defied the sanction by testing a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

While the people of the whole world are concerned over North Korea, which has an army of one million, becoming a nuclear weapons state, the leaders of the Burmese junta may be one of those who would like to emulate North Korea.

Burma severed diplomatic ties with North Korea after agents of North Korea assassinated South Korea’s cabinet members and officials including the Prime Minister and three ministers in the 1983 bomb blast at Martyrs’ mausoleum in Rangoon. The current regime approached North Korea to help build their military might and is getting technical assistance in recent years. Now they have restored friendly relationship based on mutual sympathy and common ground of facing the same hardships.

In an emergency resolution adopted by the UNSC, including China, which has traditional influence over both North Korea and Burma, North Korean vessels can be stopped and searched on high seas along with imposition of an arms embargo and financial sanctions. Even then, it is unable to rein in North’s nuclear weapons programme.

Though it is believed that Burma is still far from possessing nuclear weapons, it is very clear that it is expanding its military might. But only few will doubt the dream of Burma, ruled by Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the father of the bride, who wore diamonds like cascades in her wedding reception, to become a second North Korea.

READ MORE---> Dream of Burmese Generals...

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