Burma: Kachin people reject ceasefire without political talksBy Zin Linn Jul 15, 2011 10:33PM UTC
A two-day meeting of Kachin delegates in Laiza, in Burma’s northern Kachin State, concluded with the denunciation of a truce without political reconciliation with the Burmese government, according to sources who were in audience on July 12-13, Kachin News Group [KNG] reported.
The July 12-13 meeting was held at the Alen Bum Military Base, in the KIO command center Laiza, hearing the opinions from Kachin public leaders on restoration of ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the military-backed Burmese government. More than 120 delegates from Kachin State, Shan State and the rest of Burma participated in the meeting.
During the meeting, Maj-Gen Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the military-branch of the KIO, divulged details about the KIO’s ceasefire plan to Kachin public leaders at the meeting.
Political analysts and observers have been deeply concerned about widespread war in Kachin State. Now, people have been blaming the Thein Sein government for breaking every promise with the ethnic ceasefire groups.
The regime’s miscalculation of handling the Kachin issue seems to be pushing the country into an abysmal gorge of tragedies. Burma’s new military offensives on the Kachin, Karen and Shan armed groups will lead the nation into a severe poverty trap.
According to Maj-Gen Gam Shawng, the KIO will only seek out a transitory armistice with the Burmese government for up to six months. However, it can be called a halt at any time if there were no political word of honor. The KIO’s new ceasefire plan was rejected by delegates because of the failure to achieve a political solution over the last five decades, a Kachin News Group (KNG) reporter in Laiza said.
In hopes of setting up political dialogue, the KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with the central government on February 24, 1994 and supported the military-favored 2008 constitution.
No political dialogue has occurred in the 16-year ceasefire duration and the KIO were intimidated to remove weapons and transform into the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF) before the November 7 election.
The KIO cast off the BGF plan, saying it cannot accept transformation of its armed wing.
Talks between the KIO and the Burmese government were also abortive in 1963, 1972, and 1980 respectively; though, they all failed to get to the bottom of the political standoff between the two sides.
The 22-year military rule of the country ended after November 2010 polls. President Thein Sein’s government was sworn in as a new controversial civil government in March 2011. It has not publicly offered a new ceasefire agreement to the KIO, until now. Despite that, the KIO proposed a new ceasefire plan to the Thein Sein government on July 8, according KIO officials in Laiza.
The public meeting in Laiza was called while the KIO is waiting for the government’s response to its new ceasefire proposal amid growing concern by the Kachin people over ceasefire talks.
As reported by the KNG, the KIO met with peace delegates from the Kachin State Government on June 17, June 30 and July 7. However, the state-level ceasefire effort was rejected by the KIO, Kumhtat La Nan, General Secretary-2 of the KIO said.
In such a situation, no one throughout Burma will trust President Thein Sein’s government’s propaganda of good governance policy, national unity program and poverty alleviation agenda. At the same time, it seems the Thein Sein government has no inspiration of undertraking a meaningful dialogue seeking a peaceful and prosperous nation in the ASEAN family.