Myanmar’s Thein Sein Pays Visit to Kachin State
BURMA

Burma’s Thein Sein Pays Visit to Kachin State

Myanmar, Burma, Kachin, war, civil war, thein sein, idp,

Burma President Thein Sein visits Kachin State this weekend.(Photo: The President’s Office)

During his first-ever visit to the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina on Sunday, President Thein Sein told residents he wanted a “lasting peace” in Burma’s northernmost state, and insisted that the Burma Army is in full support of the country’s peace process.

State-run newspapers on Monday reported that the president offered symbolic support to a handful of the thousands of people in the state displaced by fighting between the government army, known as the Tatmadaw, and ethnic rebels.

Thein Sein, who was joined by Tatmadaw Commander in Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, as well as members of his Cabinet, also met with Christian and Buddhist religious leaders, politicians and other Kachin figures.

Hkalam Samson, the secretary of Kachin Baptist Church, told The Irrawaddy that he thanked the president for his “remarkable decision to suspend Myitsone hydropower project, and his efforts to have political solution by ending the war in Kachin.” The president froze the massive Chinese-backed dam development on the Irrawaddy River in 2011 amid widespread public fears about its environmental and social impacts.

Kachin religious leaders met with the president for 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon, he said. However, Hkalam Samson said, the president did not fully address the issue of those displaced since a ceasefire between the government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) broke down in 2012. More than 100,000 people are still living in temporary camps after they fled their homes during fighting.

Hkalam Samson said he personally had less than 2 minutes to raise issues with the president, in which time he was able to “demand the immediate implementation of the federal union which the ethnic groups are demanding.”

Kachin politicians also welcomed the president’s visit, which was originally scheduled for last year, but was canceled due to bad weather.

Dwebu, a Kachin parliamentarian in Naypyidaw, said Thein Sein’s visit was welcome, but overdue.

“It should have happened long ago,” she said, adding that it was important for the head of state to show his support for those affected by Burma’s conflicts. She said leaders from the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), often visited those affected by the violence in Kachin.

Dwebu also contrasted Thein Sein’s visit to Kachin with a similar visit last year by his political rival, parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, who, she said, spent more time listening to residents’ concerns.

Dr. Manam Tu Ja, the chairman of Kachin State Democracy Party, said Thein Sein explained what his administration—a quasi-civilian government that took over from Burma’s military regime in 2011—had done for peace and development in the country.

“We, the audience, listened to the president’s speech at the town hall,” he said. “It was a very limited time that he had, but it was a good meeting.”

The KIO is one of only a handful of ethnic armed groups that is still engaged in fighting with the Burma Army. The government is pushing to have a nationwide ceasefire agreement signed by almost all the armed groups, but the process has suffered delays.

David Takapaw, an ethnic Karen leader and vice-chairman of the United Nationalities Federation Council, an alliance of rebel groups, was skeptical about the government delegation’s visit to Kachin.

He praised the presence of Min Aung Hlaing alongside the president, showing unity between the executive branch of government and the military. Clashes in recent years in the north of Burma have led many to speculate that the president is not fully in control of the army.

However, said David Takapaw, “peace cannot be done for show only, the Parliament and the military must give full authority to the executive body on this.”


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2 Responses to Burma’s Thein Sein Pays Visit to Kachin State

  1. He better visits kachin refugees camps too. Visiting myitkyina alone is nothing.

  2. George Than Setkyar Heine

    DO YOU KNOW WHY MIN AUNG HLAING ACCOMPANIED THEIN SEIN ON KACHIN VISIT?
    What you guys didn’t see or noticed was the fact: Min Aung Hlaing had a gun poked at Thein Sein’s back man. Ha Ha Ha!
    Hence, Thein Sein could not LINGER/DWELL ON THE SPECIFICS much less DETAILS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO HAD MANY QUESTIONS IN REGARD TO ONGOING FIGHTING BETWEEN MIN AUNG HLAING’S HORDES and the KIA in addition PEACE PROCESS ONGOING today as well.
    That’s why the people were very much FRUSTRATED OVER LITTLE or NO TIME GIVEN THEM even Thein Sein was standing right in front of them.
    In short and simple jargon: THEIN SEIN WAS GAGGED since day one until he left Kachin State man, any bets?
    On the other side of the coin is the WHOLE SHINDIG IS JUST FOR SHOW ONLY guys.
    And the PEOPLE FELL SUCKERS FOR THE RUSE as well no doubt.
    Dwebu, a Kachin parliamentarian in Naypyidaw, said Thein Sein’s visit was welcome, but overdue.
    “It should have happened long ago,” she said, adding that it was important for the head of state to show his support for those affected by Burma’s conflicts.
    What DWEBU didn’t know was the fact Thein Sein’s only a DUMMY PRESIDENT man.
    Min Aung Hlaing has the GUN and he is the ONE CALLING the SHOTS in Burma as well, get it?
    However, Thein Sein STOPPING the Myitsone Dam Project in its tracks EARNED the DUD PRESIDENT A LOT OF ACCOLADE of course.
    No doubt STOPPING THE MYITSONE DAM PROJECT SAVED THEIN SEIN, his BOSS’ (Than Shwe) and DAMNED CONTINGENT at Naypyidaw running Burma today as well, any bets?
    In case Thein Sein KOW TOWED to the CHINESE and CONTINUED with the Myitsone Dam Project Naypyidaw and its inhabitants would be HISTORY by now, trust me.
    Just LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED TO OSAMA bin LADEN and THE TALIBAN WHO DYNAMITED THE STANDING BUDDHA STATUES in AFGHANISTAN?
    SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS JUST A COLLATERAL DAMAGE only as well.
    Hence, just a CAUTION GIVEN IN GOOD FAITH as well: DON’T BULLDOZE the BUDDHIST SHRINES at the LETPADAUNG COPPER MINE PROJECT I say!
    Of course SEEING IS BELIEVING as well, they say.
    Then WHY NOT TRY IT?
    Only the DEVIL KNOWS DOOM/DESTRUCTION/DEATH AWAITS the CHINESE IN CASE THEY DOUBTED THE POWER OF BUDDHA/BUDDISM and BURMA’S BUDDHISTS as well and DARE TO DO IT of course.

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