Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) sent letter to U Aung Min, Vice-Chairman of Union level Peace-making Work Committee and Minister at the President Office on Dec 24 objecting to Burmese army Northern Commander’s order to withdraw KIA troops from Laja-yang which is located about 7 mile from Kachin administrative capital Laiza.
Northern Commander Brig Gen Tun Tun Naung informed KIO through mediator Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) to withdraw KIA troops from Laja-yang for administrative purpose by giving a deadline of Dec 25.
KIO said government’s Union level peace-making committee and KIO’s delegates have engaged through dialogues to find political solution. The letter said KIO objects Northern Commander’s intention to find solution by military means by ordering KIA to withdraw its troops from Laja-yang by Dec 25.
KIO and Burmese government signed a ceasefire pact in 1994 after 33 years of fighting between two sides. The Kachin arm-struggle revolution began on Feb 5, 1961 during Burma’s early democratic days under U Nu. The then Burmese government ignored the promise of Panglong and asserted the Union in its own term, repressing the ethnic groups and their cultural and religious traditions by banning teaching of ethnic languages at government schools and declaring Buddhism as a state religion.
17 years of ceasefire period ended after government troops attacked KIA’s Bumsen post stationed near Taping hydropower plant on June 9 of last year. KIO asked Burmese government to honor previous ceasefire agreement by repositioning its troops to the level before 1994 ceasefire agreement. Burmese army has dramatically increased its presence in Kachin region after a ceasefire was signed in 1994. More infantry units from lower Burma including units from Light Infantry Divisions have been sent to Kachin frontlines since the beginning of the renewed fighting.
On Christmas, Burma Army’s Order Like a
Call to War: Observers
The Burma Army has issued an order to armed
ethnic rebels in Kachin State that observers say
is akin to a declaration of war, as the government
claims to be working toward peace in the region.
In a letter sent on Sunday, the government’s
Burma Army ordered ethnic rebels to vacate an
important route near their headquarters.
All soldiers from the Kachin Independence Army
(KIA) should leave the route to Lajayang region,
about 11 kilometers from their headquarters in
Laiza on the Sino-Burma border, before Tuesday,
according to the letter.
Kachin leaders responded that they would stand
their ground.The letter was signed by Brig-Gen Tun
Tun Naung, northern commander of the govern-
ment’s army, and sent through the independent
Peace Talk Creation Group. It said government
soldiers would be deployed to the Lajayang region
to work on administrative processes there.
But Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burma military watcher on
the Sino-Burma border, said he believed the deplo-
yment would serve a military purpose.
“It’s not normal; it’s a declaration of war,” Aung
Kyaw Zaw said, adding that government forces
would likely wipe out KIA troops if the rebels rem-
ained on the frontlines.
“It’s not suitable to make such an order when the
government is working on the peace process with
ethnic groups,” he added.
The KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence
Organization (KIO), sent a letter to the government’s
main peace negotiator, Minister Aung Min of the
President’s Office, saying it rejected the Burma Army’s
order, which it described as a military threat, and
would continue to keep rebel fighters in Lajayang.
The KIO’s letter was sent to Aung Min on Monday
and seen by The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
The letter said the KIO rejected military threats to
resolve the conflict, as the organization aims for a
resolution through political dialogue during peace
negotiations with the government.
The conflict in Kachin State is escalating, as more
government troops head toward KIA headquarters
and fighting breaks out daily, according to Kachin
sources.Fighting is especially bad in Lajayang, a
region that government troops hope to overtake,
observers say. The region is strategically close to
KIA headquarters in Laiza, where about 70,000
refugees have taken shelter.
“Our bases in that region [Lajayang] are very imp-
ortant for us and our headquarters,” KIO spokes-
man La Nan told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
“There’s no way we’ll pull our troops out of there.”
La Nan said the Burma Army’s order seemed to
indicate plans for a large-scale military offensive.
“Our troops are deployed in those [Lajayang] areas,”
he said. “If they [government soldiers] enter that
zone, fighting will surely break out.”