Kachin Rebels, Govt to Hold Talks in China

Kachin Independence Army soldiers in northern Burma. (Photo: James Robert Fuller.)

LAIZA, Kachin State — The Burmese government and ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Burma will hold talks in China this week after some of the worst fighting in the country in years, even as fresh shelling boomed across the front line.

The talks will begin Monday in the Chinese border town of Ruili, officials on both sides said Sunday.

The meeting comes after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops this month in the hills around Laiza, which serves as a headquarters for the rebel movement.

The army used fighter jets, helicopter gunships and intense artillery barrages to seize the rebel outposts during its offensive, and there has been speculation that the government launched the assault to strengthen its hand at the negotiating table.

Laiza has been largely quiet since Burma’s army took control of Hkaya Bhum, the highest hill in the area, on Jan. 26. However, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) officers say government troops still sporadically shell rebel posts, some of which have been newly dug as the guerrillas retreated. The rebels say fighting is still occurring in other parts of Kachin State.

Khon Ja, an activist with the Kachin Peace Network, said the army fired four artillery shells at one rebel post a few kilometers west of Laiza on Sunday. A day earlier, they attacked a rebel post at Lawa Yang, just to the southwest.

Government forces are “trying to harass us,” said Sgt. Brang Shawng, who is deployed at Lawa Yang. “They are trying to draw us into a fight, but we are under strict orders not to fire back.”

He said army troops on a hilltop overlooking Lawa Yang attacked his position with rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds and bursts of gunfire twice on Saturday.

Referring to Monday’s talks, Brang Shawng said: “We hope there will be a truce so peace will come, but nobody thinks this is going to end soon.”

Since the conflict resumed in June 2011 after a 17-year ceasefire, the two sides have held at least 10 rounds of talks to try to end it.

Monday’s meeting was confirmed by a KIA officer and a civilian official working with the government’s negotiation team. The officials declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The Kachin, like Burma’s other ethnic minorities, 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 administration, which has been praised by world powers for making political and economic strides toward democratic rule over the last two years.

AP writer Yadana Htun contributed to this report from Rangoon.


5 Responses to Kachin Rebels, Govt to Hold Talks in China

  1. China should let the Tibetans and the Uyghurs have their own armed militia, so that they can fight the PLA and then hold peace talks somewhere in Burma periodically!
    If you would strip away my irony you can see how this hypocritical double-tongued double-faced Dragon still controls these “stupid” people in Burma.
    As Sun Tzu said; “Let the barbarians fight each other!”

  2. KIO/KIA, the puppets of Chinese. When China calls for the meeting, they come. They will follow what Chinese advise, to end the war or not. What is the goal of KIO/KIA? What do they do for Kachin people?

  3. andaman, If not in China, where should they hold the meeting ?? New Deli ? Bangkok ? Dacca ? You will pay for the tickets ??

    • In Laiza! It’s still part of Burma, no? Burma is still a sovereign country and ethnic conflicts are purely internal affairs, no need to look for a Greedy Foreign Big Brother, who by the way, is providing weapons for both sides (I’m not even talking about the UWSA) so that people in Burma can be proud about killing each other, in return for total control of natural resources (whose wealth will never benefit the poor rural farmers).
      “Let the barbarians fight each other, we the superior Han Chinese will rule the country ultimately” Xi Jinping

  4. Well .. The track record of holding a peace meeting inside kingdom of Burma was not very good. See what happened when they had such a meeting in Panglong. How can Kachin expect the Burmen to respect signed agreements again after sixty years of Burman hooliganism.

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