Burma: No trust so far between government and KIO
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Burma: No trust so far between government and KIO

Peace Delegates of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government had a discussion until midnight on Monday at Ruili, a Chinese border town. But the two parties did not get to an armistice accord. However, they agreed to meet again before April 10, according to a joint statement.

As a consequence of civil war that has proceeded for more than sixty years has left Burma, one of the most insolvent countries in the world. Although Burma gained its independence in 1948, it cannot address its civil war with its ethnic population.

A few months ago, heavy fighting and government’s armed forces expansion keep on mainly in ethnic areas, especially in Kachin State. Burma Army maintained a brutal warfare on the ethnic Kachin people up to last month. The government armed forces put into practice using landmines, attacking ordinary civilians, taking hostages for forced labor, looting and destructing citizens’ properties, sustenance and agricultural farms and burning the ethnic villages and so forth.

September to December in 2012, armed conflict between the government and the KIA had been going on mostly in eastern and central Kachin State. The KIO targeted to block supply lines in southern Kachin state.  The then clashes took place in the state’s western jade rich Hpakant district where the Kachin resistance had claimed major victory during August 2012.  The government’s control of the Hpakant jade-land has reportedly earned billions in revenue since the early 1990s when the KIO gave up control of most of the rich district.

The government’s major offensive in Hpakant seems aimed at removing the KIA from important strategic positions that protect Laiza, the KIO’s de facto capital.  The government army had been gearing up for a major military offensive against the KIO last year using massive military strength of over 80 battalions.

The news about government airstrikes hit the headlines up to January 2013. However, the United States and the United Nations had to warn the government to stop air strikes against the Kachin rebels. The escalation of air attacks was even menacing the country’s reform process. The power of the air strikes with the threat of a ground invasion of Kachin administrative capital Laiza added difficult relations between Burmese government and the KIO.

Despite the President’s call for cooperation, the trust is not at hand. The ethnic armed groups do not believe the government’s peace call. The fact is that while offering peace, the government has been increasing its military deployment to the conflict zones.

Peace-talks on 30 October, 2012, between government and the KIO reached nowhere to end hostility, according to the then media reports. The talks which took place at Ruili (Shweli), a town on Sino-Burma border, on 30 October ended earlier than expected, since Brig-Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders from the KIO had not presented, Kachin News Group said. During that talk, the government peace-mission led by Minister Aung Min had reiterated the intolerable offer that mentioned further political talks in parliament under the framework of the 2008 military-drawn constitution.

The KIO’s Brig Gen Gun Maw and any other senior leaders could not attend the 30-October peace talk, since the government has been escalating its military actions in the area.  Government’s reinforced its troops around the KIO’s Laiza headquarters and prepared a systematic offensive on KIO outposts.

But, on February 4, the KIO and the government delegations met in Ruili, China, where both sides agreed to decrease military tension as well as to restart political talks later in February.

By chance, on 20 February 2012, an 11-member government peace delegation led by its Vice-Chairman Aung Min held talks with a 12-member delegation of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) including Dr La Ja of KIO in Chiang Mai, Thailand media said later.

As a consequence, the talks on 20 February paved way for the 11-March (Monday) negotiations in China that generated a helpful progress after the most recent heavy fighting. Representatives of the KIO/KIA met government executives led by Minister Aung Min in the Chinese border town of Ruili.

The government’s peace delegation was led by Union Peacemaking Committee vice-chairman Minister Aung Min and Lt-Gen. Myint Soe. The KIO team consisted of Central Committee Member Sumlut Gam and Deputy Chief-of-Staff Brig-Gen Gum Maw, Mizzima news said.

Three Chinese diplomats attended the talks, including Wang Zongying from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Observers were 4 representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council; 2 from the Shan State Progress Party; 2 from the Restoration Council of Shan State; 2 from National Democratic Alliance Army and 4 from the Peace-talk Creation Group.

Peace co-worker Hla Maung Shwe told Mizzima: “I would like to say that this was the most fruitful meeting in the past 10 months.”

According to Kachinland News, Burmese army sent more reinforcement to Kachin region as the two sides are preparing to meet in China-Burma border town Ruili on March 11, 2013.

The government armed forces had in January announced a one-sided break in fighting on the Kachin frontline after capturing key positions on the edge of the rebels’ headquarters Sino-Burma border. Even though some armistices are made between the ethnic revolutionary groups and the government, there has been little satisfactory progress.

The key question is most ethnic leaders highlight their mistrust of the 2008 constitution. They said it will not create a genuine federal union at all.