Colonel Than Aung reflected Burmese government's patronizing attitude

Burmese military’s roadmap for democracy is in its final stage. Under the banner of “disciplined flourishing democracy”, military’s generals changed their military clothes to civilian ones and formed a new civilian government in accordance with 2008 constitution. But the tone and attitude of Burmese government is just the same as ever before. Colonel Than Aung’s message reflected Burmese government’s patronizing attitude towards ethnic minorities. Colonel Than Aung’s analogy of a parent’s caring attitude towards their own children was regarded as an insult. After all, we do not see Burmese government as their parent and guardian. Most of us rather see Burmese government as colonizers, invaders and oppressors. Who are they to regard themselves as guardian and parent of Kachins? And even among Burmans, few public would be willing to accept Burmese government as their parent and guardian because of their crimes committed against their own civilian population.

It is obvious from current and previous peace talks that Burmese government’s interest is to cease fire just for the sake of temporary ceasefire. They’ve already calculated the costs of war in Kachin state plus their economic gains through border trade that can be interrupted by ongoing war. Their new appearance in civilian clothes can be tarnished by civil war and crimes committed by their soldiers in front lines. And it is not wise to open several war fronts against ethnic nationalities while Aung San Suu Kyi led opposition increases political pressure. It is  legitimate purpose for Asean’s chairmanship ambition. When VCS Brig. General Sumlut Gun Maw asked government’s plan for political dialogues and settlements after signing ceasefire agreement, Col Than Aung seemed to be confused and have nothing to answer. He then carried on lecturing that all parents planned and hoped for the best of their children and children should obey and follow parent’s instructions. Is Kachin-Burman relationship similar to Parent-Child relationship?

Kachin land was a sovereign land and no foreign colonizer invaded before British did in 1895. Even British colony had not succeeded in their invasion because of fierce resistance. Kachin entered the Union voluntarily with the hope of having equal rights and opportunities as Burmans do. One famous promise General Aung San made at that time was “Bamar one kyat, Kachin one kyat”. But promises made by Burmans have never been materialised and Kachins have sunk deeper into the path of suppression and suffering. Kachin’s revolution began because of Burmese government’s negligence over ethnic rights, selling Kachin land (Phimaw, Gawlam Kamhpang), making Buddhist as state religion and breaking promises made in Panglong agreement.

While they are offering for peace talks, Burmese military has increased the number of foot soldiers and transported military hardware to Kachin state by trains and ships. They’ve been strengthening their military’s posts and positions since previous 1994’s ceasefire to eliminate KIA. Burmese government’s plan of militarization in Kachin state continued though they asked for ceasefire with KIA. It is rational and reasonable for KIO/A not to sign a ceasefire agreement without any concrete plan from government for political dialogue in written schedule. It is because they have been cheated by signing a ceasefire agreement in February, 1994.

Now is the time for the new civilian government to reflect and change its attitude towards ethnic nationalities. Burmese government should start genuine and sincere political dialogue for a lasting peace in Burma.

Bum La

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect kachinlandnews’s policy.