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Thousands of Ethnic Lisu protest in Myanmar, demand Army to apologize for the Killings

The ethnic armed group, which controls large swathes of northeastern Kachin state, has regularly engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army since a cease-fire agreement collapsed in 2011.

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Ethnic Lisu protest killings by the Kachin Independence Army in Myitkyina, capital of northern Myanmar's Kachin state, May 22, 2017. RFA
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Myanmar, May 28, 2017: Thousands of ethnic Lisu in Myitkyina, the capital of northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, protested on Monday against an ethnic armed group for violating human rights by indiscriminately arresting and killing civilians and extorting money from them.

The protesters also took issue with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) political group, for failing to apologize for killing the Lisu people, the protesters told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

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They demanded an apology from the KIA and pledges not to commit the same crimes in the future and to provide assistance to the families of those they killed.

Ethnic Lisu from the towns of Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Tanai, and Puta-O joined in the protest.

“They violate human rights, and they are unfair,” said Alay Phar Phar, a member of Lisu National Protest Committee. “They practice chauvinism when they deal with us.”

The KIA killed four Lisu people last year in the Sadon region of Kachin state as well as some this year, he said, adding that local residents have not yet been able to determine the number and identities of those who died.

RFA was unable to contact KIO leaders for comment.

The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group who live in northern Myanmar, southwestern China, and parts of Thailand and India. Many are Christians. An estimated 600,000 Lisu live in Myanmar.

Because they inhabit mountainous areas largely covered by dense forests, they must rely on raising livestock and hunting to make a living in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

Armed clashes in Kachin

The KIA has been engaged in fighting with the national army in Kachin state, with the latest clash occurring on May 19 in Hpakant township, according to a report by the online journal The Irrawaddy.

The ethnic armed group, which controls large swathes of northeastern Kachin state, has regularly engaged in hostilities with the Myanmar army since a cease-fire agreement collapsed in 2011.

In November 2016, the KIA teamed up with three other ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—to form the Northern Alliance.

The alliance then launched coordinated attacks on 10 government and military targets in three townships in neighboring Shan state and along the105-mile border trade zone between Myanmar and China in retaliation for government army offensives against its soldiers.

The fighting resulted in heavy losses on both sides and displaced tens of thousands of civilians.

The protest by the Lisu in Kachin state comes as the Myanmar government gets ready to hold the second round of key peace talks known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference with various ethnic militias on May 24.

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The KIA is not a signatory to the government’s nationwide cease-fire agreement signed with eight ethnic armed groups in October 2015.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is spearheading the peace initiative, previously said all ethnic armed groups would be invited attend, but the KIA has suggested that it would not take part if it was invited only as an “observer” to the summit, The Irrawaddy said. (RFA)

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Rohingya influx is a threat to common security of the entire region

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

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The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Rohingya Refugees, wikimedia commons

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.

“Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region,” Shringla told IANS during an interview.

“Bangladesh has engaged itself to address the issue. They have taken up the issue with the UN. The Bangladesh government is also working through multilateral agencies besides bilateral negotiations with Myanmar.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya Muslims. This is a humanitarian crisis even though the issue posed a common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for all the countries of the region.”

Over 1.15 million registered Rohingya have been residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox’s Bazar region, after they fled Rakhine to escape a military crackdown on their villages last August.

To a question about extremist activities in Bangladesh, the visiting Indian envoy said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pursued a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism.

“After the terror attack in Dhaka’s Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in July 2016, law and order agencies have been active against terror activities. No major incident has taken place since. The issue cannot be resolved overnight. This is a continuous process,” Shringla said.

"Rohingya influx from Rakhine state of Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious and common security challenge not only for Bangladesh but for the entire region," Shringla told IANS during an interview.
Bangladesh Map, Pixabay

The High Commissioner came here on Thursday and held a series of meetings with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Governor Tathagata Roy and other senior officials.

The visiting diplomat during his meeting with Deb discussed various issues like connectivity, people to people contact, hassle free movement of Indians to Bangladesh, trade and economic activities.

The Indian envoy said that Bangladesh has been promoting peace and security not only within its territory but ensuring regional and international peace and security.

Also Read: Sundarbans’ activists are against the upcoming NTPC power plant in the area 

About China’s rising cooperation with Bangladesh and investment in Dhaka, the diplomat said that India’s relations with Bangladesh were enduring and sustainable.

“India’s relationship and partnership with Bangladesh was based on cooperation, mutuality of benefit and respect for each other. People to people contact is very important,” Shringla said.

The High Commissioner said that 111 agreements have been signed between India and Bangladesh in the last ten years in different sectors. India has given $8 billion in three Lines of Credit to Bangladesh.

According to the envoy, total trade between the two countries in 2016-17 was $7.5 billion while $3.3 billion worth Indian investment proposals are registered with the Bangladesh government.

He said that India is currently supplying 660 MW of power to Bangladesh from West Bengal and Tripura.

India has spent Rs 19.14 crore to create the infrastructure for the third International Internet Gateway in Agartala to get the 10-gigabit bandwidth from Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited.

For this, an optical fiber cable link has been established between Akhaura (along Agartala) and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Regarding the 2019 Bangladesh parliamentary elections next year, the Indian envoy said it was the country’s internal matter.

The Rohingya influx from Myanmar to Bangladesh is a serious common security challenge for the entire region, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla said here.
Representational Image, Pixabay

“Bangladesh has a vibrant democracy like ours. The country is holding periodic elections. We look forward to a very free and fair process of election in Bangladesh.”

He said that India-Bangladesh relations were based on common history, language, culture besides a common border of over 4000 km.

“Today we are enjoying the best ever relations. During the past 10 years, relations have improved enormously. Cooperation, friendship and partnership are beneficial for both the countries.

“The countries have invested significantly to develop infrastructure along the borders to promote trade among the two neighbors. The border infrastructure is being further developed to enhance trade and economic activities between the two nations.

“Currently 36 land customs stations (LCS) are operational along the India-Bangladesh border. Further upgradations were being done along the Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura besides West Bengal borders,” he added.

Shringla said that to further improve the ongoing bus services between Dhaka, Kolkata, Agartala, Shillong and Guwahati, more steps would be taken to make the bus services more effective as it is inexpensive for people of both the countries.

Five Indian states – West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share the 4,096-km border with Bangladesh. (IANS)