Monday, January 14, 2013

KIA: The Terrorist Group from Burma?

KIA massacre of public officials at Saddone.
It was in the middle of 1974 when I was a young lance corporal in the army in the Kachin State of Burma. Our infantry battalion was fighting a brutal war against KIA (Kachin Independence Army) and CPB (Communist Party of Burma) insurgents in the mountainous region by the Chinese border.

After nearly a year on the front our company was pulled back to Myitkyina for a two month break. Part of our R&R was we had to do the week-on and week-off escorting of the daily Mandalay-Myitkyina train. The train was the only connection between Myitkyina and the rest of Burma. Plane trips were too expensive and the Irrawaddy there was too shallow to navigate and there were no roads then.

Daily diesel train left Myitkyina early morning and the sister train left Mandalay in the evening. They met somewhere in between and swapped the escorting army units and continued the journeys. If nothing went wrong both would reach their destinations roughly 24 hours later. KIA was frequently attacking the trains, and so the long rail line and the train itself had to be heavily guarded.

I reckoned that blue train might be the longest passenger train in the whole wide world. It needed two diesel locomotives at the front and another two at the rear end to pull and push all 60 or 70 odd carriages over the mountainous terrain. A flatbed-car loaded with tons of heavy steel I-beams was attached to the first locomotive as a heavy pilot car to detonate the possible KIA mines on the tracks and also to withstand the explosion and prevent the derailment. The train moved so slow, at some difficult uphill bends one could walk past it.

The escort car we had to ride in was shielded both sides and bottom with thick steel plates. The side plates had gun-slits for our MG3 medium machine guns and inside were two long benches by the walls for the gunners and the open middle was a space for the rest of us.

KIA’s Brutal Attack on the Passenger Train

KIA roaming unit of Murderers and Rapists.
From my battle experiences I already knew very well how atrocious the KIA Kachins were in treating us Burmese soldiers their mortal enemy. But one day on that passenger train I also began to realize how brutal and ruthless our enemy KIA was when it comes to the lives of innocent civilians including their very own Kachins.

That day was a very wet day as a heavy rain was pouring down non-stop since the night before. We didn’t even hear the gunshots as the loud rain had suppressed them. Only when the bullets started hammering the steel plates of our escort car we realised we were being attacked.

A KIA unit had slipped through the tight cordon of army patrols and now they were taking positions at the jungle edge and shooting at our car first and then the cars behind us. Our MG3 gunners returned fire and within a few minutes we were out of their gun sights as the train had kept on going.

None got hurt in our car but I immediately knew that the insides of the cars behind ours would be like a slaughterhouse as these timber carriages have no protection against the high velocity bullets. As a usual procedure the train didn’t stop till it reached a large station where an army unit and a civilian medical team from the local hospital were waiting.

The station had a small brick stationhouse on the wide concrete platform which was unusually long unlike other stations’ platforms. As if they were regularly doing it every time a train was hit, many uniformed soldiers and a large number of locals quickly carried down the wounded first and later removed the dead bodies from the cars.

On the platform, a doctor in white duty-coat and a couple of uniformed-nurses were already treating the mildly injured. A sergeant then brought down the bloodied body of a dead woman on his arms and laid her down on the platform, not far from where I was standing now, followed by another body on the arms of another uniformed soldier. Within an hour, a long line of bloodied corpses was quickly formed on the platform from one end all the way to other end.

Men, women, a few children, and a couple of pregnant women, all together nearly one hundred bodies. I started counting the bloodied and mutilated bodies in my mind, but had to stop counting at sixty as I couldn’t bear to look at them no more.

Too many of them, all innocent civilians. Burmese, Kachins, Shans, Chinese, and a few Indians, all races and colors and creeds. Their lives violently snatched out of their bodies on their merry ways to Mandalay.

That was my own experience nearly forty years ago of KIA's one atrocious act!
The Mandalay-Myitkyinar passenger train destroyed by KIA mines.
Is KIA a Terrorist Organization?

KIA roaming unit of murderers and rapists.
Today everyone is talking about the war raging in Kachin land. Many people are deeply interested in Kachin affairs and I am one of them too. I tried to read and listen any news coming out of this war going on in our Kachin State.

By the way I’m a retired judge who has studied a lot about laws both domestic and international. I’d served as a district judge in two large districts.

Recently, KIA has been desperately complaining about our army using air support in devastating operations against their last stronghold Laiza on the Chinese border. These Kachin insurgents have been loudly protesting against the army’s use of air force jets and helicopter gunships on their positions defending Laiza headquarters.

Their main argument was that Burmese army’s air attack on them was the violation of Geneva Conventions. As far as my extensive knowledge concerning the Geneva Conventions I do not think our army has deliberately violated any legitimate restrictions placed by the world famous Geneva Conventions.  
Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties and three additional protocols which establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war. The details are as follows;
First Treaty (1864) for amelioration of the wounded and sick in armed forces in the field, Second Treaty (1906) for amelioration of the wounded and sick in armed forces at sea, Third Treaty (1929) relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, and Fourth Treaty (1949) relative to the protection of civilians in time of war.
None of the conventions’ treaties and protocols mention the restriction on the use of air force in suppressing a domestic insurgency. The desperate KIA’s accusations of army using chemical weapons also have no merits and the physical evidence necessary to prove the KIA’s accusations.
In reality KIA or Kachin Independence Army is just a terrorist organization terrorizing the people of Kachin State and Northern Shan State of our Burma. There are many valid reasons for our government branding KIA as a terrorist organization.
Deliberately attacking civilian targets such as Mandalay-Myitkyinar trains, kidnapping civilians (in some cases the whole families), violating women and girls (rapes), robbery of valuable properties from local civilian populace, forced-collection of so-called protection money, and deliberate uses of civilian populace in their war against the army (such as human shield and forced-portering and laying of landmines) are being repeatedly committed countless times by KIA all over Kachin State and Northern Shan State.
So our army is justified both morally and legally in trying to eliminate the terrorist KIA by using any legitimate forces necessary.
A 15 year-old Kachin girl: the gang-rape victim of  a KIA  field unit.
KIA's acts of atrocities all over Kachin State and Northern Shan State.
Related posts at following links:
KIA Massacre at Saddone
KIA:the Highway Robbers and Rapist Cowards