Leaked Records Say Tatmadaw Asked KIA to Abandon Bases

By Lawi Weng 8 February 2018

YANGON — The Myanmar military asked the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) at a meeting in China last week to withdraw from its bases in Kachin State’s Tanai Township where the two forces have engaged in intense fighting in recent weeks, according to leaked KIA records.

The two pages began circulating on Facebook on Wednesday and appear to come from a larger document produced by the KIA giving its account of each side’s comments during their meeting in China.

“The Tatmadaw [Myanmar army] does not recognize some KIA bases. We ask that you withdraw Battalion 14 from the bases. If you do not, we will destroy those bases,” the pages say, recounting the Tatmadaw’s alleged remarks.

Battalion 14 is stationed in Tanai, where the Tatmadaw launched a large offensive against the KIA last month. The near-daily fighting has driven hundreds of people from the area.

KIA spokesman Colonel Naw Bu confirmed the authenticity of the document to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

“I think those papers may have come out from inside people,” he said, referring to KIA officials who attending the meeting in China. “But they have not issued or announced anything publicly yet about their meeting.”

“We heard that both sides discussed how they could reduce the fighting at the meeting. They did not reach any agreement yet and need to talk more before they do,” the spokesman said. “Some Myanmar army battalions will have to withdraw from some areas, but the KIA also has to withdraw from some bases in order to reduce the fighting. But there is no clear statement yet on how to do it.”

According to the pages posted online, the Tatmadaw said it was monitoring the United Wa State Army, which is also active in Kachin State, and take action against it as well if necessary.

The pages also say the Tatmadaw complained that the 1947 Panglong agreement between the central government and several ethnic groups pledging to work toward a federal democratic system was out of date and obsolete. The Tatmadaw reportedly said it did not like representatives of the US, UK and 88 Generation Peace and Open Society visiting the offices of the Kachin Independence Organization, the political wing of the KIA, in the state capital Myitkyina.

According to the KIA, fresh fighting broke out in the Kabuka area of Tanai Township on Tuesday. Local sources said both sides sustained casualties.

The latest round of fighting between the Tatmadaw and KIA erupted on Jan. 19 affecting the townships of Sumprabum, Tanai and Waingmaw with civilians reported killed and injured.

Some 2,000 people who fled their homes were initially trapped by the fighting in Tanai, but Col. Naw Bu said on Wednesday that about half of them have managed to get out.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the Tatmadaw has restricted humanitarian access to Tanai and that it remains concerned about the area’s civilian population.

More than 100,000 people remain displaced from their homes since a 17-year ceasefire between the central government and KIA collapsed in 2011.