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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 913

Burma Army keeps on operation while Kachin peace talks go nowhere

By Zin Linn

Last round of peace talks on 30 October between government of Burma and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) reached nowhere to end current hostility, according to media reports.

The talks which took place at Ruili (Shweli), a town on Sino-Burma border, on October 30 ended earlier than estimated, since Brig Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders from the KIO had not presented, Kachin News Group (KNG) said.

During the talks, the government peace-mission led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min had reiterated the unacceptable proposal that mentioned further political talks take place in parliament under the framework of the 2008 military-made constitution.

The fighting broke out in June 2011 since the government’s armed forces violated the 1994 ceasefire agreement. To reinstate stability, the KIO has over and over again declared that it wants to talk with the government by means of the Panglong Agreement as a reference. But, the government has turned a deaf ear to KIO’s proposal so far.

In January, the KIO released an official statement towards the entire people of Burma, which reiterated the group’s desire for a truly democratic and federal Burma. The statement says: “The root cause of the war is political. In order to end the war and bring about peace these problems must be solved by political means.”

The statement added that the KIO submitted numerous proposals during the National Convention, in order to facilitate ethnic nationalities to live equally with their Burmese citizens. Eventually, all proposals submitted by the KIO during the national convention were rejected by the military senior leaders who were in charge of the process. The statement highlights that the KIO will participate in negotiations with the government in order to achieve equal rights and self-determination for the Kachin population.

However, Burma Army has been constantly deploying more battalions in areas held by Kachin Independence Army, military-wing of the KIO, while President Thein Sein government has been declaring publicly that it will not change it reform-course to backward direction. It looks like Burma Army has a plan to launch a wide-ranging war.

According to media reports, warfare has increased significantly for the past few weeks though the two sides met in Ruili for talks last month. Kachin peace delegation and Burmese government have a preliminary agreement to reduce troops in conflict areas during previous peace talks.

But Burmese Army violated the 1994 truce and overran the KIO controlled territory which was early agreed by both sides. KIO has time and again asked Burmese government to pull out its troops to prove sincerity and trustworthiness for future peace meetings.

During this week, Burma’s military send hundreds of reinforcements to Kachin state, in preparation for an apparent renewed offensive against positions held by the Kachin Independence Organization. A total of three train loads of reinforcements arrived in Myitkyina on 6 and 7 October, referring eyewitness in the Kachin state capital, KNG said.

In addition to the troops sent to Hpakant, some 700 troops were sent to government positions near the KIO’s headquarters at Laiza, according to a KIO officer stationed there. Trucks carrying large numbers of government troops were also seen heading to Putao, in the north of Kachin State and Danai in the west.

Fighting in the Hpakant area has increased over the past few months as Burma’s armed forces attempt to reoccupy the region’s lucrative jade mines, many of which have fallen under the control of the KIO.

The Kachinland News also reported that additional government troops have been deployed in Kachin areas contrary to President Thein Sein and his ministers’ words. Thein Sein as well as his minister Aung Min said that their armed forces are fighting a defensive war in Kachin and northern Shan state.

About 1000 Burmese soldiers were transported from lower Burma to Myitkyina after the two sides met in border city Ruili on Oct 30, referring a Myitkyina resident Kachinland News said. Burmese soldiers transported to Myitkyina by train to reinforce existing troops were immediately being deployed at Tang Hpre village, near suspended Myitsone dam project. The soldiers killed civilians’ livestock such as chicken and cow for their food once they arrived at Tang Hpre on Nov 8, said a local resident.

During the talk, U Aung Min, head of Burmese government delegation, promised to begin a political dialogue in near future.

Nonetheless, the government’s peacemaking team and KIO peace delegation had publicized a joint-statement dated 10 March after peace talks for the third time at Jingcheng Hotel in Shweli, China. In the said statement, the two sides presume that military tensions would be decreased as a result of the peace talks. Besides, the two sides have agreed continuation of dialogue on the issues related to the outposts in conflict areas until the two sides reach an agreement.

The KIO’s Brig Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders could not attend the 30-October peace talk, since the government has been escalating its military measures in the area. Government’s reinforced its troops around the KIO’s Laiza headquarters, and looks like to be preparing a systematic offensive on KIO outposts.

The civil war against KIO has been sending nearly 100,000 refugees plus IDPs along the Sino-Burma border adjacent to Kachin rebels’ area due to harsh military offensives launched by Burma Army. President Thein Sein should keep his words that his army is fighting a defensive war in Kachin and northern Shan state.

If the president failed to keep his promise, people may not recognize the so-called democratic reform run by his government.

- Asian Tribune -

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