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Shan community organisations urged US Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter to suspend all military engagement with the current Burmese government, as the Burmese Army is escalating military operations in central Shan State.
Ahead of Kerry’s planned visit to Naypyidaw for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, 14 Shan community-based organisations issued an open letter on Thursday to inform the US official of how the Burmese Army had seized territories of the Shan State Army-North in June, an action which violates an existing cease-fire agreement.
The areas include Ke See Township’s Wan Pasaung and Wan Warp towns, where more than 300 villagers have been displaced, the letter said.
“This aggressive expansion into Shan ceasefire areas, endangering and displacing civilians, throws further doubt on claims by the Burmese government that it is seeking a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict,” the letter said. “We also deplore the huge costs of this offensive, with a single day of shelling costing hundreds of thousands of dollars on the national budget.”
Calling on Kerry to raise these issues with President Thein Sein during their meeting in Naypyidaw, the Shan community organisations added that the Burmese government needed to begin the immediate withdrawal of troops in Shan State and other ethnic areas “in order to build confidence in the peace process”.
“We also urge the United States to suspend military-to-military engagement with the Burmese government, to convey disapproval of its continued aggression against the ethnic people,” it said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch also pressed Kerry to put pressure on the Burmese government regarding the country’s “deteriorating rights situation,” according to a HRW statement released on Thursday.
“Kerry should use his visit to deliver a clear and public message of deep concern about serious human rights problems, including continued persecution of the Rohingya, continued military abuses against ethnic groups, and the need for constitutional reform,” said HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams. “They need to be put on notice that Burma will lose US and international support if reforms do not continue.”
Scheduled to attend the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Naypyidaw, Kerry will be in Burma from today until Sunday.