Loilem authorities reject complaint against Burma Army soldier for attempted rape

Parents seeking to prosecute a Burma Army soldier justice for the attempted rape of their teenage daughter, had their complaint rejected by the Loi Lem district administration office yesterday, a local source said.

A source close to the district office said that local officials were fearful of accepting the complaint because it was linked to the military.

The incident happened on April 17, but the girl’s family had been too scared to file a complaint until April 22.

A local news source said that the incident occurred at about 6:00 pm on April 17 in Kong Kon village, Dong Nao tract, 13 kilometers south of Loi Lem district.

The 14-year-old girl, daughter of Khun Nai and Nang Kham (not their real names), was staying at her house when Lance Corporal Myint Thien attacked her, he said.

LCpl. Myint Thein is a soldier from Loi Lem-based LIB 513 led by Maj. Aung Myint Thu and Capt. Kyaw Myint Niang.

He tore her shirt and tried to rape her, according to the local news source, but fled when the girl’s parents heard their daughter’s screams and confronted him. Her parents were able to arrest him with the help of their neighbors.

After the incident, Maj. Aung Myint Thu said the soldier would be punished for the incident, but villagers were dissatisfied that justice would be served.

After failing to get any response from the military, the parents and other villagers went to the district administration office on April 22 to file a complaint, but it was not accepted.

Read More

Behind the Wa hosted ethnic conference

The first question asked by several ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) when the invitation to a peace conference in Panghsang (officially Pang Kham) on 6 April reached them was, as to be expected: “Why only 12 (EAOs)? Why not all?”

Naypyitaw’s reaction was also understandable. It had reportedly protested against the inclusion of three EAOs currently engaged in heavy fighting with the Burma Army: AA, MNDAA and PSLF/TNLA. (see attachment)

The Wa spokesman U Aung Myint aka Li Zhulie no doubt did his best to answer these questions. It wasn’t his fault that his answers failed to convince anyone.

The inevitable new question thus comes up.

What’s behind the Wa-Kachin-Mongla organizers’ decision to host such a conference? Or rather who? And more inevitably, was it China?

There are several indicators, according to observers:
  • China, in 1994, had pressured the KIO to conclude a ceasefire with the then military government of Burma. Now, it no longer does.

  • The same goes for the MNDAA, better known as Kokang Army, led by Peng Jiasheng that the Burma Army has yet to defeat after more than 2 months of fighting.

  • The Chinese special envoy Wang Yingfan, during the 8 day marathon Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) negotiations, had tirelessly tried to lobby the government’s negotiators to put the Kokang issue on the agenda, only to be rejected by them.

The result was that although several nations had welcomed the successful completion of the NCA draft, China was not among them.

  • The UWSA is also oddly acting out of style. In the past, it had always done its best to avoid confrontations with the government. Even when there were credible reports of clashes between the two sides, it had always disclaimed them. But now it doesn’t seem to care about Naypyitaw’s outcry against the inclusion of the AA, MNDAA and TNLA in the conference.

  • Those that have been invited are all based along the Chinese and Thai borders. On the other hand, those on the Indian side, except for the AA that is headquartered on the Chinese border with the KIO, are invited. Notably the Chin National Front (CNF) of Chin State that shares the border with India’s Mizoram is unabashedly left out.

Clearly, Beijing’s aim is not against the EAOs signing the NCA. But it appears to be against Naypyitaw leaving out any groups, especially those that are based along the Sino- Burmese border.

It is also obviously concerned that if the conflict is allowed to go on, international intervention may be coming, the last thing it wants.

The best solution that will benefit all those concerned therefore appears to be the inclusion of all EAOs, as suggested not only by China but by all the EAOs.

Finally, whatever the conclusions are here, the upcoming Panghsang conference, 1-3 May, will be worth keeping an eye on.
Ethnic Conference UWSA

Read More

Panghsang meet to foster understanding not to decide on nationwide ceasefire agreement

It is now becoming quite clear that the 12 Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), invited by United Wa State Army (UWSA) will be just a meeting between members of Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and groups not participating in negotiation directly with UPWC. According to Gen Gun Maw, deputy chief of staff of Kachin Independence Army (KIA), it is a UWSA called conference and not the NCCT held meeting. The meeting scheduled to take place in Panghsang, from 1 to 3 May will discuss about how to go about with the peace process and evaluate the whole situation, not to decide on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) fifth draft, agreed text, on 31 March.
Non-NCCT members, are the UWSA, the Mongla group and Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), and groups that the government refuses to acknowledge as participants in the nationwide ceasefire process are Arakan Army (AA) and the Kokang‘s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). Both parties, including TNLA, have been involved in heavy fighting with the Burma Army in northern Shan State in recent months.

In this sense, the NCCT called meeting, involving all members still need to take place, so that EAO leaders could decide upon the fate of NCA draft, which would either lead to ratifying it with or without alteration, from the part of the ethnic leaders, or call another round of discussion between Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC) and NCCT to finalize the latest draft, should there be additional clauses, from the ethnic point of view. Either way, the EAOs need to gather and talk about the latest draft among themselves first and foremost.

The EAO leaders past meetings were held in Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) capital Laiza and Karen National Union (KNU) controlled Lawkhila, with the military’s tacit knowledge and regime’s endorsement. However, the venue of the upcoming meeting is still not decided, at this writing.

Since logistics is the most important factor to hold such meeting, involving EAOs spreading all over the country, this has to be in place or arranged, so that it could materialized. The past meetings were made possible, due to the regime’s endorsement and help, regarding transportation of the ethnic leaders to the meeting destination. During that period, the relationship between the Tatmadaw and the EAOs were quite good, if not excellent, and it had yielded to the regime’s desire. But these days, the relationship is worsening, especially with the MNDAA, KIA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and AA, with offensives and daily armed clashes going on in northern Shan State and Kachin State. Apart from that, the military has openly voiced its displeasure for the invitation of MNDAA, TNLA and AA by the UWSA, which the regime doesn’t acknowledge as its negotiation partners. It even issued warning, invoking paragraph 17/1, association with illegal organizations act, and threatening to arrest those who might be involved. This means, it could arrest all EAO members and those who support them anytime, when they pass through the military controlled areas. And this means, it could block the movement of the ethnic leaders and could sabotage the meeting, whenever it chooses to do so.

Even though the up-coming Panhgsang meeting will be able to be convened, presumably with the participation of MNDAA, TNLA and AA, due to the favorable geographical location of the Wa headquarters, other locations like Laiza and Lawkhila will become problematic to reach, which have to make use of Tatmadaw controlled routes, without its willingness to endorse the free passage for all EAO leaders.

As such, the regime and as well, the military should view the peace process as a whole package for the betterment of the country, of which the EAOs meeting is also part and parcel of the whole undertaking; and allows smooth logistics flow to make the NCA deliberation of the ethnic leaders possible.

And given that the Thein Sein regime’s insistence and eagerness to proceed by its tightly scheduled plan, to start political dialogue before the general elections, slated to be held in November, there is no time to lose, from the part of the government. It will certainly be an embarrassment, if the military were to lay stones on the road peace process for any reason, whatsoever.

Having said that, the military should now rethink its rigid posture, abandon its territorial gain offensives and opt for cooperation, especially where the forth-coming Ethnic Leaders’ Summit is concerned.

The contributor is ex-General Secretary of the dormant Shan Democratic Union (SDU) — Editor

Read More

War and peace process can’t go together

On 19 April, government owned media reported that a total of 126 soldiers were killed and 359 more injured during the fight in Kokang. The Kokang rebels who go by the name of Myanmar National Democracy Army (MNDAA) meanwhile says government casualties are some 1,800 while the MNDAA has suffered some 70. Understandably, the actual figures could be in the in-between.

Meanwhile the number of civilians that have fled the killing zone on the Sino-Burmese border is somewhere between 50,000-90,000.

The number however is less important. The point is more about the citizens of Burma who are giving up their lives to satisfy the whims of their leaders. On the contrary, if the war were fought only between the said leaders themselves in a duel without involving their soldiers and people, it would be more preferable.

The message here is especially for the government and its armed forces. Because all the trouble in the country today could have been avoided if they were more open to reason.

And also because it was the President himself who told his Kachin visitors on 16 March, according to U Hla Maung Shwe, Myanmar Peace Center’s special advisor: Anyone killed on the battlefield—whoever they are—is a loss to the country. These words should apply to those killed and wounded in the Kokang battlefield too.

Sun Zi (BC 551-467), the universally respected author of the Art of War, has counseled:
A government should not mobilize an army out of anger
Military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath
Act when it is beneficial, desist if it is not
Anger can revert to joy
Wrath can revert to delight
But a country destroyed cannot be restored to existence
And the dead cannot be restored to life
Therefore an enlightened government is careful about this
A good military leadership is alert to this
This is the way to secure a nation and keep the armed forces whole
(The Art of War, Chapter 12)

Master Sun’s master Lao Zi is even more explicit:
Weapons are instruments of fear
They are not a wise man’s tools
He uses them only when he has no choice
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart
And victory no cause for rejoicing
When many people are being killed
They should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow
That is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.
(Dao De Jing, Chapter 31)

A good soldier is not violent
A good fighter is not angry
A good winner is not vengeful
(Chapter 68)
What is more, how can a peace process that excludes some of the active armed movements inspire confidence even from those who have signed ceasefire agreements? They are certain to count themselves as the next possible targets of the government and its armed forces and focus more on preparations for war than for peace.

At stake is the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) which was successfully drafted on 31 March. At stake is the peace that the country has been deprived of for so long.

It is therefore hoped both the President and Commander-in-Chief will conduct a critical review of the peace process and the war in Kokang—together, not seprately—and decide on an enlightened course of action that will benefit both themselves and the country.

Read More

To Hopeland and Back (Part XII) Day 17

Day Seventeen. Tuesday, 31 March 2015
The highlight of the day is the visit by the President himself “to pull a propaganda coup”, according to his opponents.
“I was watching the TV reportage last evening and was so happy that I couldn’t go to sleep,” he tells us.

All right, I say to myself. This may a publicity stunt. But you have to concede that it is also the culmination of his offer given 3 years and 7 months ago. What would have happened to him if there weren’t this day for him to make the most of?

A signing ceremony to mark the completion of the NCA drafting is presided over by him. Which is later criticized by some. “You hadn’t finished reviewing your draft, and you signed it?” asks an incredulous scholar who is considered an authority on peace processes around the world. “That is a very risky way of doing things.”
Later in the day, U Aung Min has time to chat with me. “Are you happy with the draft?” is my question.

His answer:
“The draft has 18 pages, 7 chapters, 33 articles and 86 clauses. But three guarantees stand out among them: That this country will be federal, that there will be exemption from Unlawful Association Act, and that there will be political dialogue. What more could I ask for?”
He ends his reply with his favorite passage from one of Sai Kham Leik’s greatest hits:
Making what is easy difficult
That is the way of the world

I know what he means. He had wanted a shorter NCA, a one-page document, to be able to start the Political Dialogue as soon as possible. But the peace process that the President and himself had spawned also happens to have a life of its own which either has little control.

So what comes nect?

According to the draft NCA, the roadmap to peace has 7 steps:
  • Signing of the NCA
  • Negotiations/Adoption of the Framework
  • Launch of Political Dialogue
  • Holding of Union Peace Conference
  • Signing of Union Peace Accord (UPA)
  • Ratification by the Union Assembly
  • Implementation of the NCA

There is also the time factor. The President has promised with his Deed of Commitment (DOC) on 12 February the political dialogue will be inaugurated before the elections in November. Which means there are only 5 months to complete the first 3 steps:

April-May                                –                 Signing of NCA
June-July                                 –                 Agreement of Framework
August                                    –                 Political dialogue launched
September-October                –                 Election Campaign
November                               –                 General Elections
If all goes according to plan, work committees will be formed to work on the dialogue topics before a new legislature and a new government are installed by March 2016.

But all things have a way to go awry, as already proven by the NCA drafting. The hope is that they will go right this time onward.

Even so, the completion of the NCA draft has only managed to chop one of the Hydra’s heads. Already two more has emerged: Getting the Yes from each and every one of the EAOs concerned and getting it signed. And it will only be the end of the first step.

Unless we have a firebrand and someone like Iolaus to hold it and use it, our Herculeses are going to have a hard time beating our 7 headed Hydra. At least that is how it looks to me.

Read More

To Hopeland and Back (Part XII) Day 16

Day Sixteen. Monday, 30 March 2015
So after an 8-day suspense, we are all back. My worries, fortunately, have not taken shape. The 7th NCA meeting, Party two, is on. The magic is still there.

It begins with a wish-well message from the Union Assembly Speaker Thura Shwe Mann. Then the two sides are off to tackle their 4 remaining contentious points.
  • On the recruitment issue, the NCCT proposes that it will be dealt with “in accordance with the progress in the implementation of the NCA and the security related reintegration,” which is accepted by the UPWC
  • On the “Three National Causes” issue, the UPWC proposes that “matters that are detrimental to (them) will be avoided,” which in turn is accepted by the NCCT.
  • On the “ethnic representatives” issue, the two sides are unable to find common ground, but the NCCT is comforted (if not satisfied) by the guarantee from the UPWC that none from the government-controlled Border Guard Forces/People’s Militia Forces will be selected as ethnic representatives
  • On the Interim Arrangement issue, the UPWC, reportedly with the green light from Naypyitaw, cut short the debate by accepting clauses proposed by the NCCT

One surprising thing about it is on the narcotics issue. The government’s initial 8 point guideline had called for cooperation against drugs, among others. But when it was brought up by the NCCT, the UPWC had rejected.

I ask U Aung Min, during the break what happened? “The UPWC was worried the EAOs would use it as an excuse to gain recruits, “he explains. “But we later decided we might have been overly suspicious.”

The day ends with the agreement to straighten out the wordings in the text tomorrow.

Read More

To Hopeland and Back (Part XII) Day 8

Day Eight. Sunday, 22 March 2015
I hope the officials are not fooling us when they tell us there are 913 “national races”, according to the last head count which was conducted last year. Which is even more than what I had heard from the population minister U Khin Yee last February: 750.

The information comes about while we are waiting for the NCCT and the UPWC to formulate a solution to the 4 points of disagreements that will be discussed today. One of which is about having a separate “ethnic representatives” category to participate in the planned political dialogue.

“How come?” I ask. “Last year’s census was supposed to have chop down the number from 135 to something like half of it, wasn’t it?”

A UPWC member who didn’t join his fellow members into their private brainstorming session explains:

“This is how it goes. If your father is, say, a Shan and your mother, a Kachin, it means you have acquired a new identity: a Shan-Kachin. You then marry, say, a Mon and have children. They no longer bear your ethnic identity but a new one, that is Shan-Kachin-Mon. The latest figure, 913, was achieved in this way.”

If it’s true, then, somebody is obviously trying to further muddy the already murky waters, not to clear them.

Understandably, the two sides, try as they may, are not able to come up with an acceptable solution on any of the remaining major 4 points, including the following new one which is being discussed today: Interim Arrangement.

The UPWC proposes a new clause: local development programs in accordance with the requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (EITI). The NCCT point out while it is not against the EITI, which the country has applied for membership, what has already been agreed between the two sides in December is a different clause.

I ask what they are, while the two sides return to their private brainstorming rooms and this is the answer:
  • Recognition of each EAO
  • Security of each EAO
  • Rule of law
  • Recognition of land policy practiced in each EAO’s area of operations

“Without these, there is no guarantee for the EAO during the interim period,” says a grizzled NCCT leading member.

The day however is not without agreements. One of them is: Submission of the NCA to the Union Assembly in accordance with the procedures for ratification.

If there is a fly in the ointment today, then it is a report that comes toward the end of the day’s session after the two sides agree to meet again on 30-31 March: Burmese fighter planes attacking KIA outposts at 15:15.

According to a government report, the military was pursuing a convoy of contraband timber that was taking a passage through the KIA territory in Mansi township, Bhamo district, near the Sino-Burmese border. The KIA retorted the accusation by saying as the consignment was coming from government-controlled areas, it was just a lame excuse and just another violation of the agreement to deescalate the fighting.

Which puts many of those concerned panic-stricken. Will there be a 7th NCA meeting, part two at all?

Which includes myself, for I have learned to respect and admire negotiators on both sides for their patience, tolerance and reason.
But as things prove later, all of us who hanker for peace are not going to be disappointed. At least on that score.

Read More

To Hopeland and Back (Part XII) Day 7

Day seven. Saturday, 21 March 2015

The 5th session of the meeting today begins with encouraging opening remarks from Nai Hong Sa, the NCCT leader:

All in all, this 7th meeting should be considered a very pleasant one. Because both sides are participating in the discussions with good intent. I’m sure that is how we are going to reach the results that we all want.

The first item of the day is how best to word the SSR/DDR in the third step of the roadmap, in a way that satisfies both the Commander-in-Chief’s directive and the needs of both sides.
The two negotiation teams then retreat each into its den to do its wordplay. The one that finishes first (I won’t tell here which one) then knocks on the other side’s door and asks whether he can make some suggestions that may help save a lot of time for both. The other side says yes, and allows him to go in and he reads out his team’s draft choice of words and bows out. The other side deliberates and then in a few minutes, they are back in the meeting hall to reach agreement on the third step of the 7-step political roadmap (the first being NCA signing and the second, drafting and adoption on the Framework for Political Dialogue):

Based on the adopted framework, national level political dialogues will be held; matters and procedures related to security related reintegration will be discussed and those that should be carried out will be carried out by mutual consent (unofficial translation)
The suspense which has been hanging for two days is now lifted. Which again calls for a clapping of hands. It seems to me it is unusually louder this time.
Personally, I think the only problem with it is the Burmese word for ‘carry out’ which can be translated either as ‘sawng-ywet’ or ‘lok-sawng’.

In English, you may say ‘those that should be carried out will be carried out by mutual consent’. However, in Burmese, it is somewhat of a jolt to read ‘those that should be sawng-ywet will be lok-sawng by mutual consent.’
I naturally ask what happened? And this is the answer I get: the military representatives have their order that the word ‘lok-sawng’ is not interchangeable.
Other discussion points of the day are:
  • Reduction and banning of recruitment by the EAOs
  • The phrase ‘with the exception’ (Hma Apa, in Burmese) under the heading Political Dialogue, which the NCCT is against using
  • ‘Ethnic representatives’ category of the participants in the political dialogue

The NCCT’s counter-proposal is:
  • Recruitment will no longer be a problem when there is no fighting i.e. ceasefire
  • When we say ‘with the exception’ to the Three National Causes (i.e. Non-Disintegration of the Union, Non-Disintegration of National Solidarity and Perpetuation of National Sovereignty) everything is negotiable, the question is who decides which matters are detrimental to them. We already have had that kind of bad experience during the National Convention (1993-2007) period when our proposals were turned down by conveners without even debate and consultation. We therefore propose that it be changed to ‘All matters aimed at promoting the Three National Causes are negotiable.’

  • With regards to the ‘Ethnic Nationalities Representatives’ as a separate category in the political dialogue, we are confused, since there are (should be) already ethnic representatives in the government, legislature, military, political parties and EAOs. We therefore question the inclusion of this category. If we agree to this who’s going to choose them?
Among each non-Burman ethnic nationality, we have several different clans that are being officially termed as separate ethnic nationalities. If each of the ethnic nationalities is not allowed to be united, how can we forget the unity of the Union?

By the end of the day, what was achieved is mutual and greater understanding of the problems surrounding the points of discussion. At least that can be considered positive.
But tomorrow will be the last day of the meeting and we hope agreement is reached on them. There is also one key question that is yet to be touched.
All participants who are Christians then decide the morning will be spent asking for divine guidance at their places of worships and request that the meeting resumes in the afternoon. Needless to say, they receive a unanimous Yes.

Read More


Allwebsitetools © 2014 Shan Herald Agency for News All Rights Reserved