Shining light on Kachin war coverage

Last week I mentioned the recent burst of official media attention to the Kachin State. Everything then went quiet forBurma’s Thingyan celebrations, and now the coverage is getting back up-to-speed.

In the meantime there have been two developments. The first is that the Council on Foreign Relations and Mizzima picked up my observations and are running with them. The second is that a group of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers have, in that classic phrase, reportedly “exchanged arms for peace”.

Given all of the reported Burmese army combat losses the defection of a relatively small number of KIA troops will not change the course of the war, but it still matters especially in terms of public perception. It does help to shift the impression of the conflict, at least in the minds of those who are already prone to distrust Burma’s ethnic armies, in general, and the KIA, in particular.

In this post I have provided two lengthy articles from The New Light of Myanmar dealing with this recent surrender. This reproduction also means they will be easily available for anybody who, in the years ahead, wants to clarify what was written at this time. And you can also digest two contemporaneous articles: one that introduces a basic first aid course held outside Mogaung, and one about airport inspections.

I anticipate we will be hearing more from the Kachin State in the coming days. The war is not over. And the media war has, for this phase, only just begun. Hla Oo, in his inimitable style, has more, including video of the surrender ceremony.

As an aside, some years ago I wrote about the use of economic incentives to motivate ceasefires along the Indo-Burmese frontier. Cash, in such situations, often seems to be king. This is a theme to which I expect to return one day soon. Nobody, in this recent KIA surrender, seems to have got rich but according to the reports they certainly won’t starve. 

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Tasks of Bhamo, Myitkyina, Putao Airports inspected

NAY PYI TAW, 24 April— Union Minister for Transport U Nyan Tun Aung arrived at Bhamo Airport of Kachin State by Beech 1900D airplane on 20 April.

Director-General U Tin Naing Tun of Department of Civil Aviation and officials reported on landing of aircrafts from three domestic airlines, arrival and departure of passengers and matters related to Bhamo Airport.

At Myitkyina Airport, the Union minister heard reports on matters related to Myitkyina Airport by the officials. He gave instructions on extension of runway and airport building.

Chief Minister of Kachin State U La John Ngan Hsai gave instructions on upgrading of aviation for development of the state.

They inspected extension of 1000 feet long extension of the runway, construction of DVOR building, entrance road to the airport and car parking.

In the afternoon, the Union minister arrived at Putao Airport and gave instructions on submission of plan to extend runway and costs.—MNA

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Kachin State Government provides peace-loving KIA members with cash assistance

NAY PYI TAW, 22 April – Kachin State Government has presented cash assistance to KIA members led by Corporal Kyaw Hsan of Brigade (5) of KIA who exchanged arms for peace on 16 April as they are not willing to engage in meaningless armed struggle.

The ceremony to provide them with assistance in cash was held at Basic Education High School (Branch) at the village of Talawgyi in Myitkyina Township on 20 April and it was attended by Myitkyina District Deputy Commissioner U Khin Maung Cho, Myitkyina Township Administrator U Than Zaw Oo, Commander of Myitkyina District Police Force Police Lt-Col Aye Than and officers from Northern Command, members of the group who exchanged arms for peace and local people totaling 1500.

At the ceremony, on behalf of Kachin State Government, District Deputy Commissioner U Khin Maung Cho extended greetings and welcomed the members of the KIA and explained peace making efforts of Kachin State Government.

Officials presented K 4.3 million provided by Kachin State Government, K 8.6 million, 67 bags of rice, 120 viss of edible oil, 250 viss of gram and 24 viss of salt provided by Northern Command and aids from Relief and Resettlement Department to the members of KIA.

At the ceremony, the leader of the group disclosed how they were recruited forcibly while they were working at farmland, received military training unwillingly, rape cases, exchanged arms for peace after contacting the Tatmadaw and their commitment to defending the country while joining hands with the Tatmadaw. He also expressed thanks for warm welcome by Kachin State Government, the Tatmadaw and the people and cash and aids for the members of the group and families.

Afterwards, townselder U Than Shwe spoke words of thanks for providing the members of KIA with cash and aids by Kachin State Government, the Tatmadaw and the people.

Local Shan ethnic women and men entertained the members of KIA with songs and the ceremony ended.

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42 KIA members exchange arms for peace

NAY PYI TAW, 20 April-Kachin State has experienced battles and conflicts since June 2011 which had forced KIA members to abandon their families to march to the battlefield. Under the gunpoint order of KIA leaders, KIA members had no choice but were much worried for their families. KIA members have suffered a great loss and causalities in engagement with the military columns with their heath deteriorating because of terrible weather and poor conditions. In addition, they had no chance to run farm for livelihood of their families. The situation was worse as many were also injured or killed themselves in mine attacks. Many regretted fighting meaningless wars, killing innocent civilians, damaging communication links, and roads and bridges.

So many a number of KIA members have left and are leaving the KIA.

Nationalities of Kachin State are anticipating the eternal peace hoping KIO/KIA to realize their wrong acts and get back to right path like other ethic armed groups. In this situation, 35 KIA members from Brigade- 5 led by Corporal Kyaw Hsan bringing along with 23 assorted arms at Talawgyi Station in Myitkyina Township exchanged arms for peace on 16 April, who said the meaningless wars were more than enough. They shot dead their close supervisor who forced them into wars in their efforts to mend. The Armed Forces and the local people extended a warm welcome to them and are arranging for their rehabilitation and security of their families.

Kachin State government, in its endeavours for eternal peace aspired by people of Kachin State, has formed state peacemaking group which held peace negotiation with KIO/KIA for three times between June and August 2011. As the government also is trying to build lasting peace for stability and national reconsolidation, its Union level peacemaking group has also held peace talks with KIO/KIA for three times-on 29 November, 2011, on 18,19 January, 2012 and on 8,9,10 March, 2012-at Shweli as demanded by them.

Nevertheless, the eternal peace, the dream of nationalities from Kachin State is still far away from coming true due to some bigoted KIO/KIA leaders.

The news of the success of peace talks between other armed ethnic groups and region/state level peacemaking groups from the government side also came into the ears of national brethren in Kachin State and many KIO/KIA members whose trust on their leaders was thus declining resulting in factional disputes. Kachin people are much overjoyed to see KIA members returning to legal fold en masse. The news of warm welcome to KIA members by local people and the military has also impressed the two KIA members to exchange arms for peace at Myitkyina military camp and five at Talawgyi military camp on the first day of Myanmar New Year 17 April.

A total of 42 KIA members have exchanged arms for peace so far and news sources said that there are still many left wishing to exchange arms for peace.

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Basic first-aid course concludes in Hsahmaw of Mogaung Township

MOGAUNG, 20 April- Conducted by Mogaung Township Red Cross Society of Kachin State, the first-aid course (basic level) No. 2/2012 concluded at Basic Education Primary School No. 1 in Kanyinmyaing Village of Hsahmaw Village-tract in Mogaung Township of Kachin State on 11 April morning.

Secretary of Township Red Cross Society Dr Kyaw Min, Hsahmaw Villagetract Administrator U Zaw Min and Hsahmaw Station Medical Officer Dr Min Min made speeches.

The Secretary of Township Red Cross Society, the administrator of Hsahmaw Village-tract and the Station medical officer later presented prizes to the outstanding trainees and completion certificates to all trainees.

About Nicholas Farrelly