Call for ‘online talks’ to end Kachin conflict


Parliament’s Lower House has urged the Union Peace-making Committee and Kachin armed forces to work towards lasting peace after reducing tension in the northern state and suggested online talks to ensure transparency as “face-to-face” meetings are not feasible at this time.

A statement from the Lower House on January 11 said that lives were being lost on both sides and stressed that the conflict needed to be resolved through “political dialogue”.  If representatives from both sides could not meet in person they could still talk directly online to ensure their discussions were transparent, the statement said.

Despite orders from President U Thein Sein to the Chief of Defense Services late in 2011 to halt all offensives in Kachin State clashes between government troops and Kachin forces escalated last year, displacing tens of thousands of people.

The military ordered Kachin Independence Army forces to withdraw from the Myitkyina-Bahmo route within two days last December 23.  Vice-chairman U Aung Min said the Kachin Independence Organisation objected to an ultimatum from the military.

The number of internally displaced people is now estimated to be about 100,000 by international nongovernmental organisations, double the number at the end of 2011.  People who fled into China to escape the fighting began returning in August when China refused to accept them as refugees.

Karen National Union leader General Saw Mutu Say Poe said the KNU plans to assist in crafting a ceasefire between government forces and the KIA. Local residents of Kachin State have repeatedly called for the end of armed clashes, saying women and children bear the brunt of them.