KIO and Govt Peace Delegation Start Peace Talks

Burmese government negotiators meet with a delegation from the Kachin Independence Organization in Ruili, China, on Feb. 4, 2013. (Photo: Hla Maung Shwe)

Kachin rebel leaders and a Burmese government delegation led by President’s Office Minister Aung Min met at the Jin Cheng Hotel in Ruili, China, on Monday for a fresh round of peace talks aimed at ending a bitter war in Burma’s north.

The meeting, which was hosted by Chinese authorities, was attended on the Kachin side by Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) peace negotiator Sumlut Gam and Gen Sumlut Gun Maw, the vice chief of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), who is regarded as a key military decision maker.

Also in attendance were Chinese officials, peace brokers such as Hla Maung Shwe of the Rangoon-based NGO Myanmar Egress, and senior leaders of the Karen National Union (KNU), including Chairman Mutu Say Poe and General Secretary Kwe Htoo Win, according to Aung Kyaw Zaw, a well-informed source in Ruili who is close to the KIO.

This is the first time the two sides have met since a KIO peace team led by Sumlut Gam held talks with a government delegation in Ruili on Oct. 30 of last year. Sources close to the government said that Naypyidaw was unhappy at that time because the KIO did not send senior representatives for the talks.

After that meeting, the government army stepped up its offensive against the KIA, using fighter jets, helicopter gunships, bombs and intense artillery barrages to seize rebel outposts around Laiza, a town on the Chinese border that serves as the KIO headquarters.

The current meeting comes after the government army captured several strategic guerrilla-held positions last month in the hills surrounding Laiza.

The area has been relatively quiet since the government army took control of Hkaya Bhum, the highest hill in the area, on Jan. 26, although KIA officers say that government troops still sporadically shell rebel posts.

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.

9 Responses to KIO and Govt Peace Delegation Start Peace Talks

  1. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Gen. Gun Maw should be MORE THAN WARY over the SITUATION at HAND of course.
    Min Aung Hlaing has PRACTICALLY SURROUNDED Laiza, where the KIA, ABSDFand Arakan Army contingent are MAKING THEIR LAST STAND today.
    Wow, CHINA is FIELDING the VENUE for PEACE TALKS as well folks!
    Of course Gun Maw led KIA has to take CHINA into the EQUATION as Laiza and Kachin State are NEXT DOOR to the Chinese communists since the beginning of time until today no doubt.
    Of course the WAR in Kachin State was CRAFTED/ORCHESTRATED by the Chinese communists in the first place and since day one, any bets?
    And the KIA, ABSDF and Arakan Army contingents as well have VOWED to FIGHT to the LAST MAN trust me.
    Hence, the communists in Beijing has COME to be AWARE of the FACT, MILITARY SOLUTION is NO LONGER AN OPTION nor VIABLE for China’s FUTURE, VIEW and STANDING in the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY on both the short and long runs as well of course.
    Given the FIREPOWER and HARDWARE in hand like today, Min Aung Hlaing could certainly claim VICTORY over the KIA led contingents making their last stand at Laiza no doubt.
    However, the Chinese communists have ultimately come to REALIZE the FOLLY of a MILITARY SOLUTION though greatly in their favor no doubt COULD/WOULD certainly/ultimately BACKFIRE at the end of the day in case LAIZA FALLS as well.
    Of course Daw Suu WOULD NOT LET THAT HAPPEN as well at any and all costs, trust me.
    The fact that ABSDF (the DETERMINING FACTOR) is in the EQUATION COMPELLED the Chinese communists to INITIATE and HOLD THE PEACE PROCESS/TALKS and in Chinese TERRITORY as well, any bets?
    And no doubt the US led WEST HAS ALSO A HAND in this DEAL ( holding peace talks at Ruili in China) a point in evidence; Burmese military personnel participating as observers in joint US/Thailand/Singapore military exercises/maneuvers this year.
    In this view Gun Maw has the OPTION and most VIABLE as well to PRESS for WITHDRAWAL of ALL BURMESE FORCES OUT OF Kachin State as the FIRST PRIORITY and NON-NEGOTIABLE as well for that matter (PEACE in Kachin State).
    And of course POLITICAL SETTLEMENT and OTHERS (economy, development, environment, social issues etc.) as well should be IN LINE and ORDER after and in the wake of the withdrawal of the Burma Army contingents in position around Laiza and elsewhere in Kachin State today.
    Of course it would be very UNFAIR and UNJUST not to mention CHIVALROUS as well to TALK of PEACE or HOLD PEACE TALKS as well on the part of Thein Sein’s ruling body at Naypyidaw while Min Aung Hlaing’s troops are SURROUNDING and THREATENING to SEIZE the KIA citadel LAIZA manned by KIA, ABSDF and Arakan Army contingents VOWING to HOLD the FORT to the LAST MAN as well I say!
    THROTTLING the KIA and TALKING ABOUT PEACE WOULD SERVE NONE for the BETTER least of all for that MATTER (peace in Kachin State and Burma as well ultimately) as well lest Thein Sein/Min Aung Hlaing forgets!

  2. Really nice. Any TALK between Burmese junta and the KIO witnessed by third parties is absolutely important. Also, it is great that Kachins recognizes role of UNCF where KIO also is part of. Political dialogue must not be delayed.

  3. Maung Aye order to use fighter jet to crush KIA . Thein Sein announced to stop fighting against KIA January 19 so that he get support international communities. The next day Maung Aye and Than Shwe called him with Min Aung Hlaing and Soe Win. They scold him for involving military action even though he is NDSC Chair person. Thein Sein can not attend last year Thai Meeting with Suu Kyi , because Maung Aye disagreed that one by not allowing the cost for that. It mean Thein Sein is President of Burma ( Myantian=myanmar)but big decision have approved by Maung Aye and Than Shwe . This time Aung Min have to succeed to cheat Kachin by ( various tactic including giving incentive to people who involved from Kachin side that is the way they try to make their way of equality like them( not concerned for the people but taking advantage for their position). I hope Kachin leaders understand that. 2008 constitution giveThan Shwe , Maung Aye , Min Aung Hlaing and Soe Win above the constitution authority. If they follow the constitution they not supposed allowed Suu Kyi became congress ( hluttaw) because the constitution said nobody convicted person can become hluttaw. They charged her with breaking law according to them. Now they allow again because they want her for helping them to lift western sanction. They allowed her to dance as long as she coorparate with them.As long as Military informally control by Than Swe and Maung Aye is above the constitution , they are collectively kings.
    Instead of eradication of Ethic Minorities, Burma should have formed self-determination based federal state including Burma regions and ethic national states .If not then Burma will circled with the seem as last 60 years not ending war . ASEAN country like it so that they get cheap labor and cheap raw material from Burma.

  4. Looks like the government’s offensive worked. Prior to the latest push by the Burmese troops, KIA has refused to discuss signing a ceasefire. At the last peace negotiations meeting, only low level KIA delegates were present – sending a message to NPT that it has no interest in peace until their demands were met (mainly the constitutional amendment). On top of that, KIA has repeated ambushed government’s supply convoys, blown up bridges, railroads, planted land mines, and attacked “soft targets” such as police stations.

    At least now, the negotiations seem to be moving forward and hopefully there will be peace in the Kachin region in the near future. Of course, all this unnecessary bloodshed could have been avoided if not for the arrogance and the pigheadedness of KIA/KIO leaders. Instead of negotiating from a position of strength, KIA looks like it’s begging for peace only when the govt troops are at their doorstep.

  5. Too early to have handshakes and cheer champagne glasses. Only after when the real deal is achieved, do so whatever is suitable. Kachins never know what will come next. The Chinese cannot be trusted since they have signed many many deals with the Burmese junta. Chinese are not in the position to mediate. After many lives have been lost, cheap talk can still result the same answers what we had seen in the past. We the ethnics need to be more clever as the Burmese junta is clever like snake.

  6. As Sun Tzu would say: “Let the barbarians fight each other, we the civilized Han will sell the weapons they need in return for their natural resources and control of their lands”
    Ancient Chinese wisdom for the “dumb warring tribes” in Mian-Dian, a Vassal State under the Heavenly Mandate of Zhong Guo!

    • I am not talking about Pagan. I am talking about what’s happening now.
      What about those recent massive “illegal immigrants” in Mandalay? Are they all Mongols? LOL

  7. How can one negotiate when the other party points a gun to your head? if peace cannot be achieved, then go all out for independance. That is the only solution. No human wants to live under the military boots.

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