COUN­TRY AT WAR

Con­flicts con­tinue as elec­tion win­ner Aung San Suu Kyi sits down in Par­lia­ment

Mizzima Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Marc Ja­cob

The au­dac­ity of Pres­i­dent Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment is hard to take in. On the one hand, their talk is of peace and bring­ing an end to half a cen­tury of con­flicts pit­ting gov­ern­ment forces against armed eth­nic groups. On the other hand, he­li­copter gun­ships and at­tack air­craft prowl the skies over ar­eas of Shan and Kachin states, bomb­ing, rock­et­ing and shoot­ing at armed eth­nic groups, while ground troops en­gage in fight­ing, driv­ing lit­er­ally thou­sands of civil­ians to flee in panic.

Crowds may cheer Aung San Suu Kyi’s vic­tory, the vic­tor wait­ing to be handed power, yet Myan­mar re­mains a coun­try deeply di­vided, a coun­try at war with it­self, with fin­gers pointed by the var­i­ous play­ers as to who is re­spon­si­ble.

Mil­i­tary Com­man­der in Chief Min Aung Hliang has called on Suu Kyi’s Na­tional League for Democ­racy to be pa­tient as the cur­rent Thein Sein gov­ern­ment goes through the process of hand­ing over power.

But as he does so, his forces are bomb­ing and straf­ing “enemy po­si­tions” in bit­ter fight­ing that hints at main­tain­ing a split be­tween Myan­mar’s heart­land and mil­i­tary oc­cu­pied ar­eas, as one eth­nic group com­men­ta­tor put it.

The fight­ing is par­tic­u­larly galling for those in the Shan and Kachin states who voted for change, only to find them­selves driven from their homes by fight­ing.

Thou­sands of peo­ple have been dis­placed in the past month by on­go­ing clashes be­tween the Shan State Army-North and gov­ern­ment forces, with the Myan­mar mil­i­tary launch­ing air strikes tar­get­ing eth­nic in­sur­gents.

“We didn’t dare stay as he­li­copters kept com­ing to at­tack,” said a 41-year-old teacher, who es­caped the area with 15 other peo­ple in her car.

“Peo­ple were so fright­ened,” she said at a monastery in Lecha town - some 100 kilo­me­tres from the fight­ing.

The army con­firmed there was on­go­ing fight­ing in Kachin and Shan states, ar­eas of the coun­try that have been plagued by armed eth­nic con­flicts for the some 70 years since what was then Burma gained in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain in 1948.

Last month, Pres­i­dent Thein Sein’s gov­ern­ment inked cease­fires with a clutch of eth­nic armed groups,

Track­ing the Tran­si­tion

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