Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


August 7, 2011

Please forward.

We have a new post on our conflict blog, a report which covers clashes between the Karen National Liberation Army and the Burma Army from June 16 through July 30.

The report describes sixty-four clashes, which resulted in fifty known Burma Army KIA casualties, including thirteen officers. The BA casualties from many of the clashes, though, were unknown. (This is also an incomplete description of the total number of clashes for this period - not all field reports have arrived.)

Other noteworthy incidents include: One BA soldier killed two of his officers and then himself; another argument between BA soldiers also resulted in three deaths; two Karen villagers were captured by a BA unit and then executed; eleven regime soldiers defected; and the KNLA destroyed two BA camps, two police stations, ten bridges, an electrical power station, an electrical generator, a military truck, and four backhoes.

We also received the following report about the fighting on the Shan front.

"News of BURMA ARMY (Tatmadaw) attack on SSA Wan-hai HQ.

Burmese Army casualties are put at 400 plus dead and 200 disabled and wounded casualties over a period of three months since early May 2011. The hospital beds in Laikha, Nam Sang (Burmese Mi29 air base) and Loilem are full so they have to take the injured and sick Tatmadaw foot soldiers to Pangtara Burmese military hospital where it is claimed to have over 1000 beds waiting for them."

The news is similar on the Kachin front. The Tatmadaw has been suffering heavy losses throughout Eastern and Northern Burma. Both rank and file soldiers and officers are under heavy pressure. The renewed conflict is not going well for the regime.

It is therefore no surprise that the generals have been making overtures to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They want to distract everyone from their battlefield losses. Also, they want to use her. They want to involve her in a phony engagement process so that she is effectively on their side.

When the generals released Daw Suu last November, this shrewd move dissipated the popular outrage over the fraudulent election that they had just held. But she had no ability to prevent them from using her in this way. Of course she was going to accept the end of her house arrest.

The situation is different now. Daw Suu should be on her guard about regime invitations and meetings. We all should be clear about this: Anyone associated with the generals, including anyone who participated in the election, is part of the regime. The officials of Burma's so-called government; the USDP; the National Democratic Force; and the ethnic parties that participated: They all are Than Shwe's allies.

When Daw Suu offered to mediate Burma's Civil War, she did not distinguish in her letter between the Burma Army and the ethnic and student resistance forces. This was unfortunate, but she had to choose her words carefully. Her personal safety is at risk. We all know where one hundred percent of the blame lies - with the Tatmadaw! If she does discuss the conflict with regime officials, though, she should advocate the resistance groups' position, beginning with implementing a nation-wide ceasefire coupled with the immediate withdrawal of Burma Army troops from the ethnic areas.

While it would be best if Than Shwe, head of the regime's State Supreme Council, would order this, everyone, including Daw Suu, must be realistic. It is undeniable that not only "political negotiations" can lead to the end of repression. The Revolutionary and Civil Wars in America and World War II are just three examples where armed conflict, however much one might want to avoid it, was the only way.

What is happening in Libya is a similar, contemporary example.

The best course of action is for the the ethnic forces and the ABSDF to continue to fight, to raise the pressure on the junta even further. Indeed, this is the only way that negotiation will ever have any chance of success - by forcing the generals to sue for peace.