Ethnic Kachin Fighters to Attack Pro-Junta Forces in Northern Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 17 May 2022

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), has said that it will attack the junta-affiliated Border Guard Force (BGF) and pro-regime tribal militias in Kachin State.

A statement released on Monday by the KIO information department accused the BGF and militias of disrupting the political and military activities of the KIO and oppressing the people.

KIA information officer Colonel Naw Bu said: “Police, people’s militias and BGF are formed and armed by the regime. We view those armed groups as our enemy, because they operate under the command of the regime and are often involved in clashes.”

Some Kachin community elders who chair tribal cultural committees are leading armed groups and cooperating with the regime militarily, instead of doing their assigned tasks to promote their cultures, said the KIA spokesperson.

“We won’t blame them if they are only cooperating with the regime culturally. We don’t have to fight them. But as they have formed armed groups in their capacity as the cultural committee chairmen, we have issued this statement to prevent unnecessary consequences among the tribes,” added Col. Naw Bu.

Clashes will occur if junta-affiliated armed groups carry out military activities in areas controlled by the KIA, said the spokesperson.

A source close to the Kachin Region People’s Defense Force (PDF) claimed that BGF and pro-junta militia groups in Kachin State are involved in the drug trade and smuggling.

“BGFs are based in Sadone and Sama [between Waingmaw Township and Kanpiketi]. [There is also a BGF group] led by Zakhung Ting Ying in Panwa [in Chipwi Township near the border with China]. They are the pillars of the regime. BGF and militias are usually involved in the drug trade, illegal logging and any other illegal activity. People’s militias and Pyu Saw Htee should not exist. We will gladly welcome it if the KIA will attack them,” he said.

Young people from other ethnic groups in Kachin State such as the Shanni, Lisu, and Rawang are also fighting the regime alongside the KIA, according to a source close to the Kachin Region PDF.

KIO district committees in Myitkyina, Hukaung, Tanai and Shinbweyang last week warned government employees of the regime to leave their offices as soon as possible or face consequences.

The source close to the Kachin Region PDF said: “The regime is the common enemy of the country. The BGF and militias who are supporting the common enemy should not exist and people should support attacks against them. Junta employees in those areas should leave. The KIA and PDFs have a strong presence in those areas and junta employees will be at risk if the KIA and PDFs launch attacks there. They had better take sides with the people and run away.”

An ethnic affairs observer said the KIO’s intention in releasing the statement is to expand its territory.

“The BGF is always with the military. There are groups based in Phimaw, Kafan and Kanpiketi near the Chinese border. The culture group [which the KIA] refers to is the Lisu group led by U Shwe Mi who is a militia leader,” he said.

Observers say the KIO’s statement signals increasing attacks against the military regime in Kachin State for territorial control.

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