Burma neglects Panglong Treaty, fighting continues against Kachin rebels
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Burma neglects Panglong Treaty, fighting continues against Kachin rebels

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), under attack by the Burmese Army as of June 9, received government envoys on June 17 at its Laiza headquarters in Kachin State, Northern Burma seeking a ceasefire, quoting KIO sources, Kachin News Group [KNG] said.

Four leaders of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly (KNCA), namely  Tsum Hpawng Sin Wa, Labang Gam Awng, Ding Yau Zau Ing, were sent by  Thein Zaw, general secretary of the Union Solidarity and Development Party and leader of the Kachin State-USDP. They offered a verbal ceasefire to the KIO, the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), said KIO officials who attended the meeting.

The envoys said that the government is prepared to announce a temporary ceasefire with the KIA. They informed KIO referring to the message of Thein Zaw, People’s Representative of Myitkyina. In reply to Thein Zaw’s ceasefire letter, the KIO has asked for convincing documents that sent to the government’s forces on the frontline over the ceasefire, said KIO officers.

However, at the same time, heavy battles are taking place throughout the Kachin State and Northern Shan State with Thein Sein government soldiers intruding into KIA’s territories, a KIA source in Laiza said.

According to eyewitnesses, on June 18, there were heavy fighting in Sinbo area in Mohnyin township in Northern Kachin State between Burmese soldiers and Battalion 5 of the Kachin Independence Army. The fighting proceeded in Si Sat Pa, west of Sinbo and continued till night, said a KIA officer in Laiza headquarters.

Despite the fact that the KIA has launched a defensive war, it has destroyed more than 10 bridges in Kachin and Shan states since early this week, crippling transportation lines of the Burmese Army.

KIO leaders in Laiza have pronounced that KIO will not start any political dialogue with the Thein Sein government and will not accept any proposal for a political dialogue inside the country. Ceasefire negotiations will have to be in a third country under the safeguard of foreign mediators.

The KIO, the second strongest ethnic armed group in Burma also leads the United Nationalities Federal Union (UNFC), the political and military alliance formed by more than 12 Burmese ethnic organizations. KIO leaders said the political dialogue with the central government will have to be with the alliance parties since other ethnic groups are also opposing to the current government.

Meanwhile, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi released a statement dated June 20 calling both government and KIO to stop heavy fighting immediately in order to protect people’s lives and properties. It also called for peaceful talks between stakeholders to settle down the decades long political crisis of the country.

The newly designated government headed by President Thein Sein, who also is chairman of the military-backed party the USDP, still controls the system of government, including the courts and the armed forces. Actually, the new government is acting much like the old one – the decade-long old military totalitarianism – with freshly retired generals still making all the decisions.

Burma’s sixty-four year-old Historic Panglong Agreement has been ignored by the Burmese military regime so far. The said agreement has been disregarded by the generals as they rule the country. The Panglong Agreement was signed on Feb. 12, 1947, between General Aung San and leaders of the Chin, Kachin and Shan ethnic groups guaranteeing to establish a genuine federal union of Burma.