Kachin Independence Army (KIA), on the side of the 9th Brigade, due to the military council’s air attack, many KIA soldiers as well as artists and civilians were killed in Hpakant Township, Kachin State.
About this matter, Myitkyina News Journal contacted the writer Bertil Lintner, an author and strategic consultant who has been writing about Asia for nearly four decades. He was formerly the Burma (Myanmar) correspondent of the now defunct Far Eastern Economic Review, and Asia correspondent for the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and Denmark’s Politiken. He currently works as a correspondent for Asia Times.
Around 1980, he was banned and blacklisted by the Myanmar military. Despite these bans, Bertil Lintner was the first foreign journalist to learn about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in 1995 and was the one who taught investigative journalism to Myanmar journalists.
Also, regarding Kachin’s issues, he is the author of books such as “The Kachin” and “Land of Jade”. In addition, he traveled from areas controlled by the KIO, such as Huong Valley, and the Triangle region, and also reached the Communist Party of Burma-dominated areas from Pajau on foot. During those trips, he met with leaders of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and other ethnic armed organizations and was able to present Burma’s civil war to the world.
Currently, he lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and works as a reporter for the Asia Times newspaper.
MNJ: Yesterday, SAC bombed the KIA’s 9th brigade where planning to celebrate KIO’s Day, KIA soldiers, artists, and civilians were killed. First of all, what would you see about this event?
Ans: I am shocked but not surprised. SAC has always shown a total disregard for human life. SAC has also bombed schools, churches, and civilian villages in other parts of the country.
MNJ: What do you think they chose to bomb at these times and not other times?
Ans: Probably to punish the Kachins for preparing to celebrate the founding of the Kachin Independence Army, KIA (which was on February 5, 1961.)
MNJ: What do you think the SAC chose this way of the bombing at a time when there is hardly any fighting at Hpakant at all?
Ans: As stated above but also because Hpakant is a very important place economically. That’s where the jade mines are, and SAC probably doesn’t want the KIA to have a foothold there.
MNJ: What might be the plan of the SAC? 4. Military council is using heavy force on the Karen, Sagaing, and Rakhine divisions. And also, they attacked the Kachin State which caused mass death. What could be SAC’s next step?
Ans: I think that’s the only language the ruling generals know, brute force. So I think “the next step” will be even more brute force, more atrocities, and no willingness to find a peaceful solution to the civil war.
MNJ: When SAC is being attacked in the southern, central, and northern parts of Myanmar and western regions, which areas can they use more force in the future?
Ans: It is my impression that most of the fighting in Bamar-majority areas is taking place in Sagaing and Magwe Regions so I think they will concentrate their efforts on those areas. There has also been heavy fighting in Chin State, and there are at least 40,000 refugees in Mizoram across the border with India. But I think we can expect more fighting all over the country, including in Kachin, Kayin, and Kayah (Karenni) states. It is also very possible that there will be renewed fighting in Rakhine State, where the Arakan Army has taken over large areas and even installed its own administration in many parts of the state. The only ethnic state where there are no Myanmar army offensives in Shan State, mainly because Ywat Seik, the leader of the Restoration Council of Shan State, has entered into some kind of business agreement with SAC. The United Wa State Army, Myanmar’s strongest and best-equipped ethnic armed force which is based in eastern and northeastern Shan State, has had a ceasefire agreement with the Myanmar military since 1989.
MNJ: Could this SAC attack lead to a bigger war? If there is a counteroffensive by the KIA, how serious will the situation be?
Ans: I think the situation can be very serious. Well, it is, in fact, already very serious. But it could get much worse.
MNJ: What do you think of the attitude of SAC towards the Kachin people?
Ans: I think the ruling generals are extreme Bamar nationalists and, as such, they look down on all non-Bamar nationalities. At the same time, the generals may be even more hostile toward the Kachins because they are Christian.
MNJ: A one-year plan has already been drawn up in order to be able to open the front (6) and attack the military council offensively, said NUG. And they also announced that this year will be a decisive year for the revolution. Can it be considered a follow-up attack to that statement?
Ans: We have to understand that what’s referred to as the National Unity Government’s (NUG) People’s Defence Forces (PDF) is not a centrally organized army with a common high command. There are dozens, if not scores, of local resistance armies fighting SAC and they operate individually. Fighting may intensify, but I don’t think that will be because of some decision taken by NUG.
MNJ: Would you like to add anything?
Ans: Not really…