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Rising Doubts Over Peace Process in Burma

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Guwahati: While the new-look President of Burma (Myanmar) propagates news about the reform & peace process across the globe, serious doubts have been raised by various rights group on actual developments in the ground.

Burmese President Thein Sein continues claiming success in the peace process with various ethnic armed outfits, but his government has recently denied permission to a UN representative to visit the active warzone of Kachin. The denial to Tomás Ojea Quintana, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, in his Kachin mission shows a gap between the words and the ground reality.

"In Kachin State, despite an agreement signed at the end of May with the Kachin Independence Organization, the Burma Army continues to advance, reinforce and resupply positions in northern Shan State. Civilians are being arrested and tortured while the Burma Army secures confiscated lands for crony investment, particularly in mining areas rich in precious stones," stated an item in the recent weekly report of a campaign group.

Security Forces Continue Attacks On KIO Positions

The report also added that the security forces continued attacks on KIO positions, which is close to the recently operational Shwe Gas Pipeline, a joint venture between the military company, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and a consortium of Indian and South Korean companies to transport gas from and through Burma to China.

Increased militarization and subsequent human rights abuses around the pipeline by the Burma Army have been common procedure throughout this project, it added.

In his recent address to the nation on 15 August, President Thein Sein claimed that "the guns have gone silent" and a nationwide ceasefire was on the cards. He also asserted that "the guns will go silent everywhere in Myanmar for the first time in more than 60 years."

"The reality is that the guns of the Burma Army are far from silent, and the ethnic people, particularly in Kachin State and northern Shan State, are suffering more under Thein Sein than the previous military regime headed by Than Shwe," added the statement.

Guns Are Not Silent, Despite Assurances

Thein Sein's proclamation that the guns have gone silent may appease some in the international community, yet there are many who continue to run in fear from those very guns that are used to chase them out of their homes, concluded the campaign group's statement, adding that the international community, therefore, must pressure the Burma government to engage in a genuine political dialogue to find a solution that not only protects ethnic communities, but allows them to exercise their fundamental rights in freedom and security.

Nava ThakuriaNava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world. Contact him at navathakuria@yahoo.com

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