YANGON — The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) chief has issued a letter of encouragement to Kachin people who have been displaced by clashes.
The letter dated April 28 and signed by General N’Ban La apologized to displaced people who are either taking shelter at camps or trapped in forests amid recent clashes, as well as to members of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, for the troubles they are experiencing.
“The KIO Central Committee is worried and feels sorry that people are suffering hardship. But we must endure the troubles of clashes for a certain length of time with patience.
“We must endure the troubled times with patience to achieve genuine peace,” wrote the KIA chief, who urged those affected to not feel downhearted.
The letter also blamed the Myanmar Army, also known as the Tatmadaw, for its offensive attacks across Kachin State while the KIO is seeking every means to solve problems politically. It also blamed the Tatmadaw for launching air strikes and artillery attacks, which have displaced many Kachin locals.
The letter also thanked those providing assistance to IDPs. It also called for unity among Kachin people and encouraged KIO members.
It also said that the KIA had withdrawn from some hills not because of Tatmadaw attacks but as a strategic maneuver.
“It is time we fight back with guerrilla warfare. KIA comrades must take responsibility not only to make efforts on the battleground but also to lead those fleeing to escape,” read the letter.
Countless clashes between the Tatmadaw and the KIA have forced more than 100,000 people from their homes to camps since June 2011.
The number further increased by more than 40,000 in April following clashes in Tanai, Hpakant, Mogaung, and Injangyang townships.
Around half of them are taking shelter at churches in nearby townships, but the other half is still trapped in forests in those townships.
They reportedly fled after artillery shells and bombs dropped from Tatmadaw helicopters fell near their villages.
A teenager was killed and his father was injured by a bomb dropped by Tatmadaw helicopters on April 11.
Five of some 1,000 locals who fled from villages in Injangyang Township are still missing, according to displaced persons.
The Irrawaddy was unable to contact the Northern Command of the Tatmadaw to ask about the clashes.
The Northern Command issued a notification on April 20 addressed to displaced persons, stating that it had occupied Man Wel in Hpakant from KIA insurgents and was conducting clearance operations in other areas in Tanai, Mogaung and Injangyang townships.
The notification claimed that the Tatmadaw only attacked KIA outposts, and made sure villages and locals were not affected by the attacks. “Except the things destroyed by the KIA, everything else is kept intact,” it read.
The Tatmadaw has provided food and household goods to locals who have returned to their homes in Man Wel in Hpakant, and will also do so for other returnees, read the notification.
The increase in the number of people at IDP camps will affect the image of Kachin State, read the notification, urging locals to return to their homes.
Thirty-two Kachin civil society organizations at home and abroad sent a letter on April 23 to the United Nations Security Council urging it to hand the case over to the International Criminal Court as the Tatmadaw is killing civilians and violating human rights in Kachin State.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.