The current Panglong peace conference caters to the Myanmar Army and not ethnic people’s wishes, said the new chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
Gen N’Ban La, the KIO chairman, spoke at the 58th anniversary of Kachin Revolution Day on Monday to more than 1,000 ceremony attendees.
“Our elders were involved in writing the Panglong Agreement. But this agreement has been forgotten. We need to be careful how we handle this going forward,” said Gen N’Ban La.
The current Panglong conference is not how ethnic people want it to be, he added.
The KIO mark their revolution day on Feb. 5, the day that they began a rebellion against the Myanmar government in 1961. During the ceremony, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) honored men who had served in the military for more than 10 years with certificates and medals.
Kachin State is rich with natural resources including jade, gold and amber. But there has been unrest in the region since a 17-year ceasefire agreement broke down in 2011. The Myanmar Army has carried out ongoing attacks in the area and seized land.
Fighting recently escalated when the Myanmar Army launched military offensives in the mining areas in Tanai and other KIA-controlled areas. Thousands of people have been blocked from leaving the area, pending military checks.
Gen N’Ban La said in his speech that the KIO has tried to solve political conflict through peaceful dialogue. The organization does not believe the conflict can be solved through fighting, he added.
The KIA does not hate Bamar people; but it attacks a group of people who want to tighten their grip on power in the country, he said.
Ethnic Kachin people need to cooperate with Bamar people in order to create a federal system. They also need to respect other ethnicities that live in Kachin, he added.
The Myanmar government planned to hold the third Panglong peace conference this month in Naypyitaw, but the date has not yet been set after being pushed back.
The KIO will attend the conference when it is based on a federal principle that allows all ethnic people and political parties to participate, he said.
The KIO is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), which has not signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). The KIO says that it will join when all members of the FPNCC can participate in political dialogue. For now, the Myanmar Army has not agreed to let the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army to participate in the peace conference.