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Open letter to the US, UK and Canadian governments on the Kachin crisis and sanctions

In response to the ongoing Burmese army offensive against the Kachin people retired literature professor La Raw Maran, a Kachin living in the US, has written an open letter to the governments of the US, UK and Canada urging them to maintain pressure on Burma's army to stop its brutal offensive against the Kachin Indepence Organization (KIO).

La Ra Maran and many others concerned about the Kachin conflict are worried that western governments will overlook the serious humanitarian crisis in Northern Burma caused by the Burmese army's offensive because of recent positive developments elsewhere in Burma like the release of political prisoners and new ceasefires.

As Ra Maran points out in his open letter the Thein Sein government's new ceasefires with the Karen National Union and Shan State Army South will benefit the Burmese army's campaign against the KIO. It would be very difficult for the Burmese army to fight a war on multiple fronts. So while the ceasefires will bring peace to Burma's borders with Thailand they will give the army an opportunity to move large numbers of troops to the fight the KIO, as has already happened.

The situation in Kachin state has not been lost on Burma's famous political prisoners like Min Ko Naing. Shortly after being released on Friday he told the Irrawaddy magazine “I am very concerned about
achieving peace in ethnic areas because when I hear the news about the armed conflicts, particularly in Kachin State, it makes me very uncomfortable.”

Western governments who praised the recent release of Min Ko Naing and the other political prisoners mustn't forget the political prisoners message of concern about Burma's ongoing war against ethnic people.

Below is La Raw Maran's January 13 open letter

To responsible officials in the governments of The United States, Canada, and The United Kingdom:

Subject: The continuing war on the Kachins by the government of Burma

I write on behalf of all Kachins who are now citizens or residents in the United States of America and Canada and I want to address the recent changing dynamics of politics in Burma. Since the Burma army/tatmadaw is still the agent of change without parallel, I will focus only on this topic.

The agreement with the Karen National Union involving a cease-fire now enables the military power in the government to move its forces that have been deployed against the Karens to Kachin State. The forces from Shan States Army and Wa fronts have already been moved and deployed against the Kachins.

Taken together, the continuing war against the Kachins and the totally secretive way in which any promise of reform in the agreements with the Karen, Shan and Wa leaders has been handled cast serious doubt on the sincerity on the part of the government in the aforementioned agreements.

Regardless, the massive movement of troops to confront the Kachins is a two-edged sword; the authorities have now put all its eggs into a single basket—the war against the Kachins.

If the governments of the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. were now to take the position that they might be willing to revisit the issue of economic sanctions if the Kachin war is fully and satisfactorily halted, perhaps it would make a great deal of strategic sense to actually promote democracy in Burma.

The Kachins have been stalwart over the years since 1962 in defense of the Panglong Agreement plans for a democratic governing system. Through thick and thin they have sacrificed to uphold that conviction. The recent formation of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) was due to their initiative. The Panglong qua UNFC plan was developed by this coalition of ethnic nationalities. This plan promises a far better system of democracy for Burma than the constitution of 2008; furthermore, it contains the seeds for nationwide peace and stability. Is this the reason why the military junta ideologues feel they must destroy the Kachin political opposition—to prevent this plan from being proposed and carried out?

We Kachins stood with the Allied Powers during World War II and made our sacrifices. We ask the same powers to do the one critical thing to change the course of political dynamics in Burma once again.

Please inform the Burma government that the governments of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. will not consider lifting the existing sanctions until it is confirmed that the Burma government has truly ceased military operations in, and their forces withdrawn from Kachin State.

The Kachin nation and those who desire justice and fairness in The United States, Canada and Britain and everywhere, will be grateful for your decision to take this pivotal step.

La Raw Maran, Ph.D.
Advisor and consultant to the Kachin Leaders
January 13, 2012

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