Who Will be Accountable for Civil War in Burma?

As soon as I wake up in the morning on 20th January 2015, I turned on my computer and browsed my Facebook to know what’s still going on in Burma so called Myanmar here and there. As a consequence, a post of dead bodies of two teen girls who are Kachin volunteer teachers from Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) seemed to have been raped and brutally and inhumanly murdered in Kawnghka village, Pang Sai Township, Muse County in Northern Shan State.

It was astonishing, I thought, to see such a crime scene in which one girl was left half naked, both were severely beaten and stabbed multiple times. I was not able to figure out the reasons: why the perpetrators were that much brutal and inhumane; what kinds of human beings dare to commit such an inhuman crime; if there are some reasons behind the scene, and so on.

Again on 23rd January 2015, I got a message from one of my friends inside Burma, which is in Man Jum village between Kut Kai and Ta Mong Nye townships in Northern Shan State, saying that two youths who are Lasham Nan, about 21 years old, and Nawng Ja, about 16 years old, were brought by a Burmese troop from where these two youths were cutting firewood. One of whom, Lasham Nan, was found brutally tortured and killed. Of course, my emotion has been escalated with mixed sufferings as I felt that those teens are part of my blood and flesh; as if my heart were torn apart. I asked a question myself that whether it is only happening to we Kachin, the answer is no, whenever a war breaks out between any ethnic armed group and Burmese military, civilians become the victims from varieties of severe human rights violations by Burmese military. I cannot stop asking so many questions for the reasons regarding with aforementioned scenes:  1) why is it going?; 2) how long has it been?; 3) how long will it be going on?, and so forth.

In my mind, I am trying to figure out some reasonable answers. The reason of such scenes are because of the Burmese military coming to subdue the ethnic armed groups, instead of trying to get political agreement through peace talks, in this case, particularly with Kachin armed group named Kachin Independent Army (KIA).

Armed conflicts in Burma are ones of the longest armed conflicts in the world between ethnic armed groups and central Burmese governments throughout the regimes. The reasons behind armed conflicts are that the failure of central Burmese governments to fulfill Panglong agreement throughout different regimes since the country got independent from British colony. In addition, geographically ethnic groups have been demanding to form democratic federalism, which seems very concrete and reasonable form of democratic system so that political and civil rights would be equal and accountable in the perspective human rights. However, as was mentioned central Burmese governments have been ignoring for such demand. That is why the ethnic groups chose to hold arms in demanding their political rights.

To figure out questions 2) and 3), yes, it is easy to answer question 2) because the armed conflicts have been for more than half of a century and it is still going on and even getting worse in Kachin state and where the Kachin live particularly in Shan State as well. To figure out the question 3), my answer is “I just don’t know” because the political trend demanded by ethnic armed groups and by currently military-dominant central Burmese government seems totally contrastive, in which central government is not willing to form democratic federal system, instead they rather go with currently severe flawed constitution (2008 constitution), on the other hand, the ethnic groups are aware that that constitution cannot guarantee to reach equally political rights, instead the ethnic groups seem aware that they would be dismantled and eventually their demands on political rights could be totally ignored with different means.

As a result, current peace process between Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) and central Burmese government is stuck and cannot go further to reach political settlement. As a result, wars between KIA and Burmese military keep on going and even worse, from which severe human rights violations like the cases of two volunteer Kachin teachers and Lasham Nan have been consequently impinged, moreover, thousands of internal displaced persons are growing and hundreds of villages have been burned and cleansed.

Given the history of peace talks between ethnic armed groups and central Burmese governments, several peace talks have been processed throughout different central Burmese regimes since General Ne Win regime until current Thein Sein administration so called democratic government. The reason is that they simply just do not want to practice politically equal rights with ethnic groups despite the fact that General Aung San promised to have political rights equally before and after Panglong agreement for struggling to have independence in combination of low land and hilly regions from British colony. Nevertheless, after Burma got independent, the promise by General Aung San has never come into existence.

On the other hand, looking at different regimes of Burma after the country got independent, U Nu led the country in a parliamentary democracy based on 1947 constitution and there were many flaws for ethnic groups in that constitution, for instance, since Burmese is the majority population and Burmese dominated the regime in different ways. Importantly, U Nu declared the Buddhism as a state religion during his regime, from which the rift between ethnic groups particularly Kachin, Chin those mostly in Christians and Burmese became wide spread. Trust, as a result, has been deteriorated between ethnic groups and Burmese majority.

In addition, during the longest dictators such as General Ne Win and General Than Shwe, peace talks with ethnic armed groups have been politicized and never make it happen for genuine political talks. Consequently, the failure of such promise by General Aung San, national religion by U Nu, peace talks politicizations by dictators General Ne Win and General Than Shwe produced armed conflicts between ethnic armed groups and central Burmese governments and never ending.

Current military-dominant government so called democratic government also seems to go on old political pattern or paradigm with different languages and words or vernaculars as their predecessors did. So, the questions, again, is there possible to end civil wars, inter alia, the longest civil wars? 1) If yes, how? 2) If no, who? Let me try to point out for “yes, how?” question, as briefly explained above, peace talks have never come up with political answers by all central Burmese governments despite the same political demand by ethnic armed groups meaning there seems to be no answer for the question “yes, how?” and it seems to be going forever or I don’t know as well. Coming to “no, who?” question, the war conflicts have been rampant and getting worse and worse, who will take care of since both parties are not capable of reaching the goal, in this case, the roles of third parties are very crucial to compromise the armed conflicts because people are to become the victims in different situations. Therefore, are neighboring countries such as China, India and Thailand concerned or interested? Is the United Nations playing with effective means?

In terms of international laws, state sovereignty and non-interference are the most serious reasons to intervene the problems of other countries. International laws enshrined in the United Nations system allows only when the situations such as genocides, race or ethnic cleansing, and global insecurity are happening meaning civil wars in the case of Burma will not come up to get intervention by any third parties. If so, are we just looking at whatever happening to the local people or waiting until genocide situation or the situation which links global insecurity so that UN security council will take into consideration. The question, here, is how many civilians have to be scarified more to have intervention from outsiders.

Looking back at the struggles for democracy in Burma have been long enough in different means by 8888 uprising, 2007 saffron revolution, and ethnic armed groups, thousands of people have been killed, and millions of people have been refuged in other countries and thousands of people have been displaced. Yet, genuine federal democratic system demanded by ethnic groups and public has not come up. Civil wars do not seem ending, and people seem to suffer painfully and continuously, and scarify their lives countlessly. In the case of Kachin, currently the situation is the worst. Therefore, let me ask to end my essay, again, “if the civil wars are not compromised, who will take accountable for the security of civilians?”