Kachinland News: Peace talks undermined by Burmese army’s offensive

Peace talks undermined by Burmese army’s offensive

KIO delegates have arrived back at Maija-yang city after 4-hours long meeting with Burmese government’s union level delegates on Oct 30. No comprehensive ceasefire agreement was signed in this meeting. This was the fourth official meeting between Kachin Independence Organization and Burmese government. Three previous official meetings were held at the same venue in Ruili on Nov 2011, Jan 2012, and March 2012.

Sara Kaba Sumlut Gam, head of KIO delegation, repeated KIO’s previous demands to honor fundamental principles of Panglong agreement, to solve political problems with political solutions instead of military engagements. He also reminded government delegation of KIO’s attempts for political dialogues with successive Burmese government in 1963, 1980-81, and 1993-94.

KIO delegation includes Sara Kaba Sumlut Gam, Tara Kasa Lahpai La, Colonel Ji Nawng, Colonel Hkun Nawng, Colonel Lahpai Zau Raw, Colonel Zau Tawng, Colonel Marip Naw Htoi, Colonel Ting Hkaw and officer Maran Hkun Seng. Burmese government’s side includes Minister U Aung Min, Minister U Win Tun, Minister U Ohn Myint, Brigadier General Tun Tun Naung, Brigadier General Aung Soe, General Zaw Win, Colonel Than Aung, Colonel Aung Thu, Colonel Kyaw Swa Win, Minister U Lajun Ngan Seng, Minister U Aung Myat, and U Tun Tun Oo.

U Aung Min, head of Burmese government’s delegation, promised to begin political dialogue in the next meeting. He proposed the next meeting to be held at either Bhamo or Muse. Sara Kaba Sumlut Gam, however, says that the time and venue for the next meeting have not yet agreed upon.

In previous meetings, KIO delegation repeatedly asked to withdraw government troops from formal KIO-controlled areas and consistently demanded to begin a political dialogue based on Panglong agreement. Kachin leaders said Burmese army need to withdraw newly deployed battalions from lower Burma and Light Infantry Divisions that were established to fight against foreign invasions and now spreading across Kachin State.

There were only 18 Burmese Army battalions deployed in Kachin region when KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with SPDC in 1994, but the number has reached to over 100 battalions in 2012. Burmese Army has dramatically increased its offensive in recent weeks by firing several rounds of heavy artillery shells on KIA and Kachin civilians’ villages as both sides prepare to meet for peace talks in Ruili.