Burma Reaches Deal with Rebels to Ease Tensions

KIA soldiers take a break from fighting during the height of the fighting in Kachin State in January 2013. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

KIA soldiers take a break from fighting during the height of the fighting in Kachin State in January 2013. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burma’s government reached an agreement with ethnic Kachin rebels on Monday to work to end a bloody conflict that has cast a shadow over the country’s progress in moving away from almost half a century of repressive military rule.

Copies of the statement released by both sides after seven hours of talks in southern China said the Kachin Independence Organization and the government’s Central Peace Committee agreed to de-escalate military tensions, open lines of communication and invite observers to attend their next meeting to be held before end of February.

Like Burma’s other ethnic minorities, the Kachin have long sought greater autonomy from the central government. They are the only major ethnic rebel group that has not reached a truce with President Thein Sein’s elected government, which came to power in 2011 after decades of brutal military rule.

Both sides also agreed to hold a political dialogue—as opposed to just ceasefire talks—and to establish a monitoring system to implement a ceasefire between warring government troops and Kachin guerrillas in the country’s north. The agreement was reported on Burmese state television on Monday evening.

The meeting in the Chines town of Ruili came after the government gained the upper hand by capturing several strategic hilltop positions near the town of Laiza, which serves as a headquarters for the rebels.

None of the points in the agreement appeared to break new ground, but it seems to offer a face-saving way out of a situation that had put both sides in a difficult position. The Kachin faced a severe military setback, and the government was suffering from bad publicity as it continues to seek to burnish its image with the international community and receive aid and investment to boost the country’s lagging economy.

The government had previously announced a unilateral ceasefire, but fighting continued as late as Saturday, and the Kachin claimed there had been some shelling by the government on Sunday.

Intermittent fighting escalated last month when the rebels rejected a government demand that they allow supply convoys to reach an army base. The Kachin headquarters at Laiza, near the border with China, and a government base are close to each other, and access to both is by the same road.

The Kachin staged attacks on government convoys trying to get through to the base, saying the supplies included ammunition that could be used to try to take their headquarters. The army claimed its actions were in self-defense, a response to the Kachin blocking the road.

A ceasefire that held for nearly two decades broke down in June 2011 after the Kachin refused to abandon a strategic base near a hydropower plant that is a joint venture with a Chinese company. The conflict has forced about 100,000 Kachin from their homes since then, and many are in camps near Laiza.

18 Responses to Burma Reaches Deal with Rebels to Ease Tensions

  1. You did not mention that this meeting was initiated and sponsored by the Central Government of PRC. Without the witness of the PRC, no deal can be expected from KIA who has prepared for the Guerrilla warfare, back to the early days of it’s struggle which will become a black molds over the ambitious Burma for many years to come. The Kachins has sought for the mediation of the Superpower as whatever agreements between the two sides without the Powerful Third parties have been useless and dumped by the Government throughout the History. Thanks to PRC for their Support to the Kachin Peace.

    • Is Kachin State now a Chinese Protectorate like the Wa State?
      Is “Myanmar” still a sovereign country? I’m not sure.

      • Why is it so bad for the kachinland to receive china’s support? This will have save many kachin lives. You don’t see Burman military attacking UWSA even though the Burman army still has more fire and man power? Burmen are known to pick on the weak. When they see a formidable opponent, their legs start to tremble.

        • All of Burma might as well become a Chinese Protectorate, since so many people in Burma are now Chinese, half-Chinese, bribed by the Chinese, dependent on China for trade, for their weapons, scared of the Chinese, hate the Americans, etc. etc.

          • Sadly, it is the Myanmar military that forces the ethnics to become pro Beijing because no other western countries provide them with military aid apart from verbal support. Look at the Wa ethnic. They are very strong; the Myanmar military will not provoke them. They even have anti aircraft guns. Who provides them? It’s an open secret. It the Kachins are to survive the brutality, the minimum they need is anti aircraft weapons. From which country can they expect to get. Think hard about it before blaming the Kachins for becoming pro Beijing. Recollect how the military treated the Bamars; the Kachins are treated more worse.

  2. Instead of dragging feet, government rather invites all ethnics leaders for political dialogue as quick as possible. Because two years have been wasted by the Thein Sein administration to do so. Political dialogue must be the most important part of building democratic Union of Burma which was aimed by the Panglong Agreement. Without this dialogue, Thein Sein administration will not be able to build democratic Union of Burma. So, put the most important issue first on the table.

  3. Thanks to all both leaders as understading & kindness to inocent people life. Really do hope peace is eternally with them.
    May god bless & thanks to God for his mercy on them.

  4. With a toad in the mouth, a dog always knows if it swallows it will get sick, if it doesn’t swallow it will stay hungry.

    Chinese! Not just Chinese but the all the international business communities including that personally involved Jew wants to get on with making money with digging up and putting on rails and roads to take things away and put the junk back in called “Development”.

    So all in concert, individually or together, make sure Kachin Land is open for digging, razing and trade routes. And oh, the Dam!

    What happens to the Kachin populace? Frankly my dear,……..

    Ninghkrin Magam- The most chilling killings by sadistic thugs are for their Papa Chinese as much as for their own vanity and greed. And the world seems determo-ined that Chinese gets her way in this rape and plunder escapade of massive scale. word is that those billions Chinese kindly invested in the poor, poor Burma Land, the gold and minerals including the rare earth they take out in chain lorries have already made up and more even before those Dams and Pipes and rails,

    And in case the point was missed, Aung San Suu Kyi is no where to be seen. Why people still says the name is a mystery. Those Peace Prizes are never funnier before.

    • I never know Burma has started to export “rare earth”. I just know world’s 80 % of rare earth still come from China, nowadays. Make more good study, not surfing on the selected websites only.

  5. By the way, Aye Aye Win, what re the chances that you would today walk on the main street of Laiza with this Great Break Through and all?

  6. Well both sides are now sucking up to Sugar Daddy China, I presume, trying to become “model Chinese slaves” after “proudly” killing each other senselessly with Chinese weapons bought by selling Burma’s natural resources to the Greedy Han.
    Sad story!

    • Ha! Longing for American aid, aren’t you. Yes, sir! What would you like: drones by CIA or drones by Pentagon? Smart missiles, GIs’ ‘boots on the ground’ ogling Burmese/Shan/Kachin lasses? Remember Eurasian orphans in not-too-far Vietnam? How about an F-22 or two for a cool $500 million – yes, million DOLL-LARs!

    • Greedy Han? Hello! Fair trade, ever heard about it? Formal trade agreement? Would you rather have drones flying over Burma? Or maybe buy a F-22 or two for a cool US$500 million? Yes, not a typo; it’s MILLION.

      • Only corrupt or “dumb and naive” Burmese do not realize what the Chinese are doing in Burma, not just in Mandalay. Why don’t you go see the damage to the environment and the destruction of the livelihood of the poor local rural population near the copper mines, jade mines, gas/oil pipeline illegal logging, human trafficking etc. etc. Soon the Chinese will scrape the gold off the pagodas and repaint them with cheap poisonous gold-colored paint from China. Very fair trade indeed.
        Well on the other and, if the majority of the people in Burma prefer to become slaves of Han (like the Tibetans?), then so be it. People might get what they ask for!

  7. justic first then peace/ No justic mean No peace

  8. The Kachins are Chinese proxies: Let’s not forget the rape of Sikkim in 1975 by the Indians with a fake referendum which ousted the Chogyal Paldin Thondup Namgal with the help of Nepalese tea planters imported from Darjeeling who overwhelmed the ballot boxes and Sikkim became an India State. The same will happen to the Kachins, if their keep up their military ambitions: They will end up like the Tibetans’ stateless and worthless.

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