On January 21, 2013 a group of 50 peace marchers including monks started their 1,300 km long journey by foot to the Kachin state in the northern part of Myanmar from the former capital city, Yangon. The primary aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and demand a stop to the on-going conflict between government military forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA). About 25 of the marchers hope to reach their destination, the city of Laiza, where the headquarters of KIA is based, in about two months.
Mya Thien wrote on the blog Luthuorthan [my]:
…the nation and its people have lost so much because of the war that was started over 60 years ago. The war has caused many sufferings; the children, the elders and innocent people being part of the victims are a grim sign for international communities and a setback for our country’s democratic transitions.
Yan Naing Tun, one of the organizers of the group said [my]:
we could choose to travel by car or by bicycle; but if we are to achieve peace, we are proving our endurance for it
Although the government has announced unilateral ceasefire last week, Kachins claimed that the fighting has continued. Khon Ja, a Kachin ethnic wrote on his Facebook page:
23 January 2013
Fighting in Hka Ya, between Laja Yang and Laiza continues.
2 Helicopters landed at Lupi, near Pang Wa, close to the Border Mark 5 and Border Mark 6 IDP Camps, dropped Troops and weapons.
Total of 12 villages with 1339 persons trapped in Gaw Gwi vally, the west of Banmaw (the west of Irrawaddy River Bank), and the north of Shwegu.
Padang Hoi also commented on the status:
president thein sein and ye htut announced 18-01-2013 no offensive , so why burma army offensive is continuing in hkayar and with use of at least 7 helicopters at pangwa today.. .what does it mean?…
Renewed violence in 2011 between government forces and rebel groups has displaced more than 90,000 civilians. National League for all Burmese Refugees reported that the Kachin refugee children were unable to access education and had wasted an academic year due to the conflict.
Peace marchers were reportedly blocked by local authorities and by the police for not securing an official permit and for breaking the laws. Aung Min Naing, one of the marchers, had this to say to the authorities:
We are not demonstrating. We are here for the peace for Myanmar people and to stop the war inside the country….. That’s why we didn’t request for official permit; but we have informed and requested help from the respective organizations and the president.