Myanmar Military Warns KIA: Drive Out AA or Face Attack
By Lawi Weng 31 March 2020
Myanmar’s army has reportedly threatened to attack two towns held by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) unless the Arakan Army (AA) is expelled, following the government’s designation of the AA as a terrorist organization last Monday.
Northern Command chief Major General Teza Kyaw earlier this month allegedly told members of the Kachin Peace-Talk Creation Group (PCG) that permission had already been granted to attack the KIA headquarters in Laiza and Mai Ja Yang.
Myanmar has since labeled the AA as a terrorist organization.
“He told the PCG at the meeting that he had permission to attack Laiza and Mai Ja Yang. He told the KIA not to let AA remain in Laiza,” said Colonel Naw Bu of the KIA.
The Kachin rebels wrote a letter saying that the Northern Alliance – including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and AA – was still committed to the peace process.
“The Northern Alliance has worked to hold peace talks with the government. Only through dialogue can we end armed conflict and stop civil war in the country,” said the letter, according to Col. Naw Bu.
The letter also said removing the AA from Laiza would not stop the conflict.
The AA did not have offices or its headquarters in Laiza, only a military training base, according to Col. Naw Bu.
Discussions within the Northern Alliance are reportedly expected to address the threat of action from Myanmar’s military.
The AA has been based in Laiza in Kachin State since its formation in 2009, despite focusing its military activity in Rakhine State in western Myanmar.
Fighting has intensified between the AA and Myanmar’s military in Rakhine State since late 2018.
Myanmar’s army has previously proposed that the AA withdraw from Rakhine State to Laiza. But this month Myanmar’s army said it wanted the AA to leave Laiza.
Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, Myanmar’s army spokesman, told The Irrawaddy that any organization supporting the AA was violating anti-terrorism laws.
“We have only one law in the country. Any organization connected to the AA is violating anti-terrorism law,” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.
The AA would not be able to participate in peace negotiations with the Northern Alliance and other groups would have to represent the rebel army, he added.
The KIA said it had seen no troop movements from Myanmar’s army regarding the threat to attack Laiza and Mai Ja Yang.
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