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ICC Note: Even as Burma promises to continue making large political reforms and greatly increase freedoms within the country, the Burmese military is continuing an offensive against the ethnic Kachin people. The Kachin are mostly Christian (some estimates say more than 98%) and have been seeking independence from Burma for decades. Adding an element of persecution to the conflict is the tendency of the Burmese military to discriminate against the Kachin for their Christian faith.  
By Francis Khoo Thwe
01/21/2013 Burma (AN) – Myanmar forces continue their offensive against rebels in Kachin state on the border with China even though Myanmar President Thein Sein last Thursday called on the military to stop their attacks in La Ja Yang, near the Chinese border. On that occasion, the Myanmar leader said that Laiza had not been conquered, but some reports indicate that fighting is taking place. Local sources in fact told AsiaNews that Myanmar forces are pushing on with heavy shelling and many civilian casualties.
Anonymous sources told AsiaNews that Myanmese forces have been involved in heavy fighting in Lagat Bum and Hka Ya, locations crucial for the defence of Laiza, which is under heavy shelling.
Fighting is also reported in Shwe Gu, near the Irrawaddy River, where some 2,000 civilians are surrounded by Myanmese troops.
In Yangon, young people have organised a peace march, joined by Buddhist monks. Marchers plan to walk to Laiza to bring the fighting to a stop.
The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, is the only rebel group that has rejected a peace offer made by President Thei Sein and his “pro-reform” government.
Violence flared up again in June 2011 after a hiatus of 17 years when Kachin leaders refused to give up a strategic position near a hydroelectric plant built under a joint China-Myanmar agreement.

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