Govt Compromise Needed to Avert All-out Civil War: KIA

Posted by Admin Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The phrase “independence for Kachin State” is popular these days among residents of Laiza, the headquarters of the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA), whose ongoing clashes with government troops continued until Monday, when artillery fire from the Burmese army side reportedly fell on Chinese territory.

Although KIA leaders do not use this phrase and only call for more political rights from the central government, they are now hinting at the inevitability of a major all-out war with the Burmese army, which could eventually force them to separate from Burma, if the Burmese government does not make any move to respond to the KIA's calls for autonomy, which it has been fighting for since 1963.

“We want a true federal state, but if the government uses force to deal with us, we will be unavoidably pushed behind the lines of 1948,” said Brig-Gen Gun Maw, the KIA deputy military chief who is playing the principal role in current discussions with the Burmese government aimed at ending the armed clashes between the two sides.

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By referring to 1948—the year Burma regained its independence from Britain—he was suggesting that the country could once again be divided into two parts: central Burma, or Burma proper, and the mountainous regions predominantly populated by ethnic minorities such as the Kachin and the Shan, which were administered separately under the British.

According to a KIA draft of a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government seen by The Irrawaddy last week, the KIA will only agree to a six-month temporary ceasefire if Naypyidaw commits to a political dialogue during this period. And the KIA wants the United Nationalities Federal Council, which represents the armed ethnic groups in Burma, to play a leading role in this dialogue.

Many KIA leaders also want to see changes in the current military-drafted Constitution coming out of this possible dialogue. Asked what will happen if the government does not make any political concessions, Gun Maw said, “Wars will continue to take place throughout this region. It only depends on the government to decide. We only ask for the proper solutions.”

To sound out public opinion among the Kachin people, the KIA leaders held a public discussion in Laiza on Tuesday with more than 120 representatives from different parts of Kachin State. The representatives unanimously said that a true federal union should be the goal of a political dialogue with the Burmese government, according to KIA spokesman La Nan.

While such formal talks continue to produce calls for federalism, however, on the ground, there is considerable resistance to the idea of pushing for a federal union. “What union? There was no union before Burma's independence. We lived by ourselves with our own resources,” said Maj Tang Sang, a KIA officer in Laiza.

The armed clashes between the two sides, which started on June 9 near a Chinese-built hydropower power plant in northern Burma, ended a 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese army and the 10,000-strong KIA, which controls territory along the Sino-Burmese border.

Since the fighting started, relations between the KIA and Chinese officials have been relatively static. KIA officials were privately furious that Burmese troops were permitted to enter China's border areas late last month to pick up several military trucks sold to the Burmese army, giving rise to rumors that the Burmese army was planning to attack the KIA from Chinese territory.

Asked if the KIA would be compelled to restrain its future military operations due to concerns about how such actions would affect Chinese interests in Kachin State, Hkwun Nawng, the official representing the KIA in its relations with China, said, “We respect China's recent call for peaceful solutions between us and the Burmese government, but there is nothing that we won't touch simply because it is Chinese.”

Meanwhile, armed clashes continue between the two sides. Since last Friday, the Burmese army has been firing artillery at the KIA's stronghold and former headquarters at Pajau, near Laiza. According to a KIA spokesman, some of the artillery fell on Chinese territory.

The renewed civil war in Kachin State has already displaced an estimated 20,000 people in Kachin State. More than 15,000 war refugees are still living in relief camps in Laiza and have not received any help from the international community since the fighting broke out early last month.

chindits Wrote:

Agree with the decision. It's sound and just! SEMI-MILITARY government needs to act their act together.

Zin Wrote:

The fighting against the government since 1961, not 1963. It is important that you deliver the right information to the public.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:

KIA'S calls for more political rights and freedom is JUST and WARRANTED in the first place.
SEIZING the land of the Kachins to PROMOTE/PROTECT CHINESE INTERESTS on the part of the rogues at Naypyidaw WARRANTS an ALL OUT CIVIL WAR of course.
Kachin's RIGHTS and FREEDOM are SYNONYMOUS with Burma's SOVEREIGNTY and TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY as well, lest the lot at Naypyidaw forgets.
SHAME on Thein Sein for SELLING his SOUL to the Chinese communists to PROTECT Than Shwe's ASS/WEALTH.
CIVIL WAR in the country COULD/WOULD WELL BE BURMA'S SPRING no less in case Thein Sein forgets!

BaGyi Wrote:

It will lead to the Independent of Kachin. Kachin has been colonized by Burman for so many years. It voluntarily joined the Union, but treated by the Burman majority as the conquered state. Kachin has the whole rights for independent and will be supported by all Nations.

Sai Lang Kham Wrote:

Following on from the Panglong Agreement, the modern day Union was created on 4 January 1948 when the Constitution of the Union of Burma 1947 came into force. Prior to this, 'Ministerial Burma' was separate from the 'Frontier Areas' of the Kachin, the Karen the Shan and the others. The hilltribes accepted their inclusion in the Union on the terms set down at Panglong. It follows that any settlement with Naypyidaw must honour the letter and the spirit of both these documents.

In the event that an agreement cannot be reached on these terms, perhaps the Kachin, and others, will need to seek independence. In the 1940s, the Kachin demonstrated that they were brave fighters.

Myint Myat Twe Wrote:

Shouldn't use the terms goverment to the Thein Sein regime either rebel to the ethinic armed gruops, because we didn't elected the regime to governs the country and we didn't opposed the arms struggling of ethinic groups, we just want true Union to happens in Burma.

By: Irrawaddy


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