Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


June 3, 2011

Please forward.


1. Burma is in a state of war, and has been since January 1949. This is when Ne Win, who became the first modern dictator of the country, had his private army commit atrocities against the Karen people (Burma's second largest ethnic group), and attack their political organizations in Insein Township, thus instigating the Karen revolution. The war in Burma, though, receives little international attention, because it is: (1) a civil war, within the country's own borders; (2) initiated by the military forces of the dictatorship against the nation's ethnic minority groups; and (3) which groups for the most part reside in mountainous or otherwise remote areas inaccessible to combat journalists. Also noteworthy is that the organizations that are working inside Burma, such as the United Nations and its affiliated aid agencies, under order of the dictators avoid the conflict zones.

Coverage of the war to-date is piecemeal. Some significant battles are described by expatriate Burmese media, including Irrawaddy, Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma, SHAN, and the other members of Burma News International. The Karen National Union, whose military wing the Karen National Liberation Army has been involved in the highest number of clashes with the Burma Army, also puts out summary military engagement reports. (To give one measure of the scale of the conflict that is underway, for the period January 1 to March 31, 2011, the KNLA was involved in 526 clashes with the Burma Army and - from October 1, 2010 - 21 with its affiliated Border Guard Forces, resulting in 416 known Burma Army KIA casualties and 15 known KIA for the BGF.)

There has never been an effort to track all the conflict that occurs in Burma, from the Mon, Karen and Karenni areas in the east, to the Shan and Kachin states in the north, to the Arakan, Chin and Naga areas in the west. This blog, which is a work in progress, will be just such an attempt. We appeal to all the different resistance groups that are engaged in conflict with the Burma Army and its proxies, including such groups information and media units, to send us descriptions of the clashes that occur in your areas of operation, to burmaconflict@dictatorwatch.org

The description of a clash should include its date; resistance group and enemy units involved; location, i.e., state or division, district, and township; the type of clash, e.g., sniper attack, column ambush, outpost raid, equipment demolition, etc.; and the outcome.

We would also appreciate photo and video documentation, and maps.

2. The goal of the blog is to give a much better feel for what is happening with the war in Burma: the number, severity and character of the clashes that are taking place and where they are occurring and involving whom. This will also reveal that the vast majority of the conflict is ethnic related. It is driven by the racism and ethnic superiority aspirations of the military rulers of Burma.

The initiative should have many practical, positive outcomes, including:

- Prove that it is unsafe for refugees who have fled to Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere to return to Burma.

- Demonstrate that the sanctions that are now in place against the regime should not be ended. Instead, they should be expanded including with the enforcement of a global arms embargo. (Of note, such an embargo was efficiently put in place against the dictator of Libya, Muammer Gaddafi, after he similarly began to attack the Libyan people.) 

- Substantiate that there is full justification to begin a United Nations sponsored Commission of Inquiry on the regime's war crimes, and to pursue international intervention to end them including by such things as demanding Burma Army troops withdraw from the ethnic areas; the creation of an international peace-keeping force; and providing direct assistance to the resistance groups (as has also happened in Libya).

- More generally, illustrate that the situation in Burma is not improving, and that there is no possibility of gradual change. The regime must be removed. The "government" of the country is nothing but a collection of puppets, who follow the strict orders of the military rulers, foremost Senior General Than Shwe, who now command from outside the public eye. These generals must be expelled (just as Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak have been expelled). This is the only way to end the war, the repression of Burma's ethnic nationalities, and also to shut down the regime's clandestine nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia.