The Irrawaddy

Police Raid KIO Office in Myitkyina

Police searched the office compound of the KIO’s Technical Adviser Team in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Dec. 12, 2017.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Police raided the office compound of the Kachin Independence Organization’s (KIO) Technical Adviser Team (TAT) in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, which a TAT office spokesman called “politically unacceptable.”

Some 50 Myitkyina police officers, both in uniform and plainclothes, surrounded and entered the KIO’s office compound and conducted a search without a warrant on Tuesday afternoon between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Dau Kha, a TAT spokesman, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday: “Initially, the police reasoned that the search was related to the John San Linn case. Later, after they didn’t find anything, the staff had to sign forms saying they did not use illegal drugs.”

Former freelance photographer John San Linn and his wife were arrested on Dec. 5 in Myitkyina, after police stated that they found more than 1,000 bullets hidden under their home in Myawaddy, Karen State.

The TAT spokesman said the police raid most likely occurred because of tensions between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

“This should not happen. Their actions have damaged the dignity of a nationality as well as the KIO’s political image,” Dau Kha said.

A previous ceasefire signed in 1994 between the two sides lasted 17 years. Similar raids happened at liaison offices after fighting renewed in June 2011.

“Since then, we shut down all of our liaison offices. We only kept the one in Myitkyina but changed it to a TAT office, tasked to arrange logistics and research and present information relevant to political negotiations,” Dau Kha explained.

Under the former administration, there was communication between the government and the KIO’s TAT office. Dau Kha said there has been little communication under the new National League for Democracy government.

He also added that there has been increased tension between the Tatmadaw’s Northern Command and the TAT office recently. He said they would not take any legal action but reported it to KIO headquarters, as such incidents are expected given political and military tension between the two sides.

Since November, fighting has resumed in KIA-controlled areas in northern Kachin State, particularly in Tanai Township.

Dau Kha said the conflict could only be solved through talks between high-level leaders from the KIO and the government.

Numerous attempts for KIO and Tatmadaw leaders to hold formal talks have reportedly been unsuccessful over the past six months.

The KIO is currently a member of the northeast based seven-member bloc the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA). Further peace talks are being delayed partly because the government and Tatmadaw are unwilling to accept this new bloc.