Burma, Kachin rebels edge towards ceasefireBy Zin Linn Jul 27, 2011 7:47PM UTC
Military clashes have intensified between the Burmese government’s armed forces and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State and Shan State even though ceasefire negotiations are taking place. Four Burmese soldiers were killed and more than 12 were wounded on July 26 during an evening ambush at Kamaing in Burma’s Northern Kachin State by KIA troops, Kachin News Group (KNG) said.
Two government army trucks from Infantry Battalion No. 105 based in Sarhmaw were attacked by KIA Battalion 6 under Brigade 2, on the Namti-Hpakant road at Nga Pauk Kone, near Kamaing. The two trucks, loaded with weapons, rations and soldiers, were heading to Hpakant jade mining city, according to KIA officers.
The 17-year-old ceasefire accord between the Burmese Military and KIA collapsed last month when Burmese government troops invaded KIO (Kachin Independence Organization).
The Sang Gang war broke out on June 9 as a defensive action against the Burmese government’s troops who fired first toward the KIA. The conflict lasted for three days and nights. The attack prompted the KIO to declare war against government since its troops invaded Kachin controlled areas.
The KIA has destroyed a dozen bridges used by government troops. As the war has spread across the area it is assumed that there is high numbers of causalities, particularly to the government side.
Currently, the military-dominated Burmese government and the KIO are in the process of signing a ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire agreement is going to be signed between the Kachin State government and the KIO, said sources close to both sides.
If the government side is ready, the ceasefire agreement will be publicly signed in Lajayang Village, on Myitkyina-Bhamo Road, said the KIO officials.
According to Mizzima News, KIO, a member of the ethnic alliance United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), has offered to stop fighting if the government will start negotiations for a nationwide ceasefire. But Burmese authorities said no deal in a recent e-mail, referring La Nang, a spokesman for the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
“They said that they would negotiate cease-fire in Kachin State first. Then in accordance with the example of Kachin State, they would try to achieve a cease-fire in other states,” La Nang said.
The signing ceremony was delayed as KIO cannot recognize the appointed government delegates to sign the accord, according to KIO officials, in Laiza. The signing ceremony will continue if the government sent dependable delegates acknowledged by the KIO, added KIO officials.
Last week, the KIO received a reply letter from the Burmese president, ex-general Thein Sein, regarding the ceasefire proposal of the KIO officers in Laiza said. Thein Sein’s letter was not publicly announced by the KIO.
Both sides communicated via letters to renew the ceasefire pact after the meetings, said sources. The Kachin State government sent a letter by fax to the KIO in Laiza yesterday, regarding the final stage of the ceasefire negotiation and the KIO’s reply letter was sent by courier today, KIO officials in Laiza said.
During the Laiza public meeting on July 12-13, Gunhtang Gam Shawng, Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), reassured Kachin public leaders, who rejected a renewed ceasefire, that the KIO/KIA would accept a ceasefire for up to six months to facilitate intensive political negotiations with the government- but said it can end any time if there are no immediate political talks.
Burma’s 64-year-old Panglong Agreement has been ignored by the successive Burmese regimes. The said agreement has also been ignored by the current President Thein Sein government. The Panglong Agreement was signed on Feb. 12, 1947, between General Aung San and leaders of the Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic groups guaranteeing a genuine federal union of Burma.
However, the current government’s warfare upon ethnic armed resistance groups is totally diverse from the new President’s inaugural speech. As the hostilities against ethnic groups were started by the Burmese government, it has taken a dim view of the ceasefire offer in Kachin State.