Monday, December 5, 2022

HPAKANT AERIAL BOMBARDMENT: A wake up call for fence-sitters?

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A tragic scenario unfolds as the junta’s military jets bombarded a public gathering to mark the 62nd Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) founding anniversary on October 23 at A Nang Pa, located near the village of Ginsi, which is a sort of rest place for travelers with some street-lined shops, in Hpakant Township.

On October 23, 8:30 pm, three jet fighters dropped bombs on the crowd killing at least 80 and wounding about a hundred present at the concert.

According to the KIO Information Officer Col Naw Bu four high-ranking KIO officers from KIA’s Brigade 9, which is active in Hpakant Township, were killed, reported Myanmar Now.

Among the 63 dead were two KIA officers, members of the Kachin business community, religious leaders, prominent Kachin vocalist vocalist Aurali Lahpai, keyboard player Ko King, and a Myanmar-born Chinese national named Kyar Kyo, residents said, according to the RFA recent report.

Hpakant Kachin State
Hpakant Kachin State

KIO Statement

The KIO central committee on October 25 issued a seven-point statement, an unofficial translation by this writer, is as follows:

  1. In order to free the people from national chauvinism and military dictatorship of successive Myanmar governments oppression, KIO has been formed 62 years ago.
  2. While the KIO 62nd founding anniversary together with the civilians welcoming celebration was in progress on October 23rd at 8:30 pm dictator military council attacked and bombed the gathering.
  3. A Nang Pa is not the KIA army camp. Even though the dictator military council has known the place to be a temporary resting place for the travelers with rows of shops, it attacked with the intention to kill a pack of people and many precious lives of the civilians and KIO functionaries were lost, which grieved and frightened the public.
  4. We urged this cruel and sickening act of the dictator military council be recorded as a historical milestone.
  5. We are deeply sorry for the artists, economic entrepreneurs, and civilians, who treasured the invitation to attend the 62nd KIO founding anniversary, had lost their lives and got injured. We would especially like to state that we are equally sorrowful together with the concerned remaining family members and relatives.
  6. We like to thank individuals, organizations sending letters of condolences, and those issuing statements to comfort the grieving and frightening concerned people because of the dictator military council’s sickening attack causing mass loss of lives.
  7. We declare that this misery will be channeled to heighten and strengthen the revolutionary resistance against the dictator military council.
Damaged place Photo Mitkyina News Journal
Damaged place. Photo: Mitkyina News Journal.

KIO Chairman Speech

On October 25, KIO Chairman General N’Ban La gave a speech on the occasion of the KIO 62nd founding anniversary which includes the following points, among others, according to the Kachinwaves news outlet.

• In the near future, KIO Central Committee will be making a political move and in order to implement it all KIO party members, KIO officials and the public are urged to participate energetically.

• As Panglong Agreement was nullified by the 1947 (Union of Burma) Constitution, the (non-Bamar) ethnic nationalities’ revolution come into being. The military dictatorship system that wielded the country’s political power in turn heightened the civil war flames, leading the country into poverty and difficulties.

• Although the February 1, 2021 military coup has complicated the situation and created hardship for the people, on the other hand an answer to nullify and destroy the dictatorship has become evident. In this undertaking the KIO must participate in every possible means, take up the duty and lead the struggle.

• The revolutionary undertakings past and present have to be seriously analyzed in order to be able to implement the future work process more effectively.

• The KIO was able to overcome military and political hardships, including the changing global atmosphere. The successive KIO leadership have never deviated from the original political principles and led steadfastly, becoming the people’s representative organization.

On the same October 25, Federal Journal reported that KIO Chairman in his 62nd KIO founding anniversary speech said the majority of the Bamar people now understand that in waging their Spring Revolution the military dictatorship and racial chauvinism have to be abolished.

“The Bamar people are bearing whatever arms they could find and rebelling in their respective areas to overcome the conflict and various hardships caused by the February 1, 2021 military coup. The whole country is now experiencing the brutality of the military council, which practiced military dictatorship and chauvinism for more than 70 years. In order to overcome this situation, the majority of the Bamar are now historically rebelling. Thus it is the most important time for the veteran revolutionary forces to lead and join together to find a way,” he said.

Massive grave in Hpakant
Mass grave in Hpakant.

Ethnic Resistance Vowed to Fight in Unison

To date, Chin National Front, Karenni National Progressive Party, Karen National Union, Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army have issued statements condemning the Hpakant massacre aerial bombing and vowed to fight the military junta together in unison.

Strangely enough, at this writing no condolences or statement has been issued by the majority of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement – Signatory – Ethnic Armed Organizations (NCA-S-EAOs) and three non-signatory EAOs, which have taken up the State Administration Council Chairman General Min Aung Hlaing’s peace talks initiative, already held twice.

They are the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), which are NCA-S-EAOs; and non-NCA-signatories made up of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA-Mongla) and Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP).

But reliable source told this writer that the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) made up of NCA-S-EAOs is scheduled to meet and announce its stance on the Hpakant airstrikes issue.

The NCA-S-EAOs have never criticize the military junta, at least never harshly, and this time around if ever there will be a statement, it will either be a mild one or reiteration of resolving political problems through political means.

Outlook

As always the junta denied that no civilians were killed and that it was a military target to punish the KIO for helping the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) and also ambushing the junta’s military convoys and attacks on its bases. But U Aung Htoo, a prominent lawyer argued that it wasn’t a military target according to the Geneva Convention criteria but a civilian-frequented facility.

The KIO calling for the reluctant ethnic resistance forces to join hand in uprooting the military junta so that the aspirations of ethnic nationalities and establishment of a federal democratic union for the whole country may be realized is worth contemplating, in the wake of Hpakant brutal massacre.

Those who don’t want to fight may think that they might get something through bargaining with the junta, upholding the dictum of “there is no permanent friends or enemies in politics”.

But parallel to this is a moral commitment that should also be taken into account and that is none other than “to be on the right side of the history”, or siding with the people and their aspirations.

On top of all these, the junta has no legitimacy to rule, especially when it is viewing the people as enemies and not hesitating a minute to commit massacre, as it has shown numerous times in Sagaing, Mongywa regions, and recently in Hpakant Township, in order to intimidate and cow the population to submission to its rule.

States exist for the sole purpose of fulfilling three fundamental tasks: 1) to protect the population of the state; 2) to promote the economic , social and cultural welfare of that population; and 3) to represent the interest of that population externally, that is, internationally.

Where a state, or its government, does not fulfill these functions over a period of time, but instead represses or even kills the people it is supposed to protect; destroys their culture, economically exploits them; or represents other interests other then those of the people, then that state or government lacks legitimacy in respect of the whole population of the state or that section of population which it oppresses.

(Source: The Question of Self-Determination : The Cases of East Timor, Tibet and Western Sahara, Conference Report (UN, Geneva, 25 – 26 March 1996), UNPO Publication, page 43.)

In short, the stakeholders of Burma cannot bargain with the junta, as it is not entitled to give or take anything. It is only bent on prolonging its hold on political power by all means.

Thus, the remaining ethnic revolutionary forces will do well to become an agent of change and answer to the call of KIO Chairman to fight in unison for a better future, rather than hoping to make a deal with the military junta.

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