Breakdown of Burmese ceasefire

On Wednesday, Wellington’s Kachin community arrived in Parliament grounds to protest the increasing violence happening in their home province. Kachin state is the Northern most state in Burma, neighbouring China.

The Kachin community told me about the breakdown, last month, of a 17 year ceasefire between the Burmese government and Kachin people. 20,000 people have fled as refugees to the Chinese border, others have gone into the jungles, and none of them have sufficient medical care or provisions.

One woman told me of her fear for her parents and siblings who she had not heard from. According to Wellington’s Kachin community, there are many missing families, particularly in the villages close to an army base.

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is urging President Thein Sein to begin immediate peace talks. There is little  international news coverage on the increasingly violent situation in Burma. We need to offer support, not only to the pro-democracy movement headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, but also to the ethnic groups targeted currently targeted by the Burmese government.

6 Comments Posted

  1. that nice old man from the south island who ripped off all that money..

    ..he was happy to do business with the burmese regime..

    ..his helocopters nz did work in burma…for the junta…

    then of course..there is kordia:..

    Kordia is a New Zealand state owned telecoms company which has been undertaking contract work for the Burmese regime. Kordia operates in Burma through a joint venture company called Kordia Solutions Thailand with the Thai firm Alt Inter Corporation. Their joint venture company has been working on a $80,000 contract with the regime owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications on mobile phone towers in Burma. Mobile phone services are strictly controlled in Burma and it is extremely difficult for ordinary citizens to afford or acquire a mobile phone. However for supporters of the regime it is relatively easy to acquire a phone through the pro-regime Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). It is reported that the USDA members raise funds by selling mobile phones, which they acquire due to their close ties to the regime.

    Managing Director
    Level 4,Fidelity House
    81 Carlton Gore Road
    Newmarket Auckland 1023
    New Zealand

    (here is a list of those doing business with the burmese junta..)


  2. I’d suggest we support them by providing aid to refugees and to Burmese NGOs, by excluding the regime from ‘free’ trade agreements and by providing training to the democrats rather than to regime officials. That would be a good start.

  3. @Alwyn, Phil

    There have been cuts to NZAID budgets over the past 3 years, or are you unaware of that?

    There are NGO-groups working in refugee camps in areas around the Burmese border, who have been supporting many different ethnic groups who have been attacked by the Burmese Army.
    That the Kachin ethnic minority are now one of these groups is an indictment on our current Aid and Foreign policy – we should be withdrawing diplomatic support form Burma, and increasing aid grants to NGO’s back to pre-2008 levels.

    Even Red Cross in NZ has had cuts to the aid they get, which is why you’ll see them doing street campaigns much more often in Wellington, where their NZ head office is. And that’s just so they can keep doing support work in Christchurch, let alone send contributions to International Red Cross/Red Crescent to help out anywhere else.

    Allowing Kachin nationals with residency here to sponsor relatives who manage to escape Burma, and get them into the Refugee Quota via Immigration services, would also be a good start. Anyone from MFAT listening? Or Internal Affairs?

  4. And just how do you suggest that we support them Keith?
    Should we follow the example being carried out in Libya?
    If not what do you suggest. Somehow I don’t see simply saying “It’s awful, it’s awful is likely to be very successful.
    Please tell us exactly what you do have in mind.

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