Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Junta flays EU’s accusation

by Nem Davies
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 13:42

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burmese Foreign Ministry in a statement on Sunday rejected to European Union’s statement of concern over the influx of refugees from Burma to Thailand due to fresh military campaign by Burmese Army against armed rebels in eastern Burma.

The statement carried in the official newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, denied the the EU’s statement issued on June 11, saying baseless and shows that the EU presidency lacks proper knowledge of ethnic insurgency in Burma.

The statement by the Burmese Foreign Ministry blamed Burma’s insurgency problems to the “divide and rule” legacy of the British colonials,

The statement further said, the recent fighting in eastern border took place between the two Karen armed groups the Karen National Union (KNU) and its splinter group - Democratic Karen Buddhist Association (DKBA).

“Members of the Government armed forces had no role whatsoever in the recent scuffles. Therefore, the allegations mentioned in the EU’s declaration that the Government troops were mounting offensive against the Kayin ethnic minority were untrue and unfounded,” ,” said the statement.

But opposition activists in exiled said, the junta is merely refuting against the EU Presidency statement, which urges all armed groups to ceasefire, because it reflected the true situation and hurts the interest of the military.

“The junta always retort whenever they are criticized. The EU’s statement had an impact on it, as it alleged that the junta was providing support from behind to its ally, the DKBA,” said Htay Aung, of the Thailand-based Network for Democracy and Development (NDD).

Similarly, a Sino-Burmese border based military analyst Aung Kyaw Zaw said the junta’s statement indicates their concern over the reaction of the international community.

He said, “The junta had been deaf to international calls as long as they enjoy the support of China and Russia. But now when the EU issued a statement, they are concern and wants to show the world that they can do anything, as they are the ones with arms in their hands.”

Naw Zippora Sein, the woman General Secretary of the KNU said that at least four battalions of the Burmese Army were rallying around DKBA forces and are supporting them by firing with heavy weapons.

In response to the junta’s statement, she said, “They are lying. Infantry Battalions No. 18, 202, 203, 205 and 210 are involved in these clashes. We have evidences that they are supporting by firing heavy weapons.”

But Htay Aung remarks that in the recent clashes the junta is deploying the DKBA forces in order to make it look as the two Karen factions are engaging in a conflict base on their differences.

“In fact, the junta is letting the two Karen forces fight amongst themselves. The junta’s forces under the command of Southeast Command, Thaton based Light Infantry Division (LID) are participating in these battles by firing heavy weapons,” he added.

He said, it is clearly visible that the DKBA forces are being manipulated to attack the Karen National Liberated Army (KNLA), the armed wing of KNU, at the behest of the military regime.

The DKBA troops have in turn receives incentives from the Junta for transforming their army in to a Border Guard and are promised lucrative business opportunities if they can control these border bases, he added.

Sources along the Thai-Burmese border said, at least 4,000 ethnic Karen villagers refugees from more than 10 villages have freshly arrived Thailand due to the recent clashes.

Thai authorities have confirmed the arrival of refugees on their soil. But the junta has denied arrival of thousands of Karen refugees to Thailand, saying those who had fled were family members of the KNU/KNLA.

“As the remnants of the KNU/KNLA forces are hiding in some pockets of remote areas near Myanmar-Thai border where no civilian resides, it is obvious that those who fled across border are none other than members of KNU/KNLA and their families. Thus, there is no cross-border fleeing of civilians as alleged by the EU’s declaration,” the statement said.

It further said, the Burmese Foreign Ministry is disappointed with the “politically motivated” declaration of EU, which was released without thorough understanding on Burma’s insurgency problem.

“Therefore, the Ministry categorically rejects the factually incorrect declaration made by the EU Presidency relying on inaccurate information originated from the insurgent groups and biased media reports,” the statement said.

But Htay Aung said, it would be wrong to say the EU declaration as factually wrong as it is made only after thorough fact checking and with the responsibility taken by the EU member countries over the facts and information.

The European Union, the 27-nation grouping which includes countries of France, Germany, Britain, Czech Republic and Italy among others, have recently extended its economic sanction against the Burmese military generals for another year.