State Counselor, KBC Discuss Kachin IDP Issues

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 25 July 2017

YANGON — Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) held talks on the resettlement and schooling of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and children in Kachin State on Monday in Naypyitaw.

“We discussed the implementation of pilot projects jointly by the KIO [Kachin Independence Organization] government and the NLD [National League for Democracy] government, as well as the resettlement of IDPs to places where clashes are unlikely,” KBC secretary Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson told The Irrawaddy.

“We also discussed schooling for displaced children and the free shipment of relief supplies,” he added.

The hour and a half discussion between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and KBC leaders took place at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Naypyitaw, and was the first meeting of its kind between the two parties.

More than 100,000 people have been displaced in Kachin State since new clashes broke out between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed wing of KIO, after a ceasefire between the sides failed in 2011.

Around 50,000 of them have taken refuge in areas controlled by the KIA. Churches play a key role in assisting the displaced population and the KBC is the main provider of food and relief supplies for IDPs in the region.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the government would cooperate with the KBC in helping Kachin IDPs through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, according to Dr. Hkalam Samson.

“We particularly discussed schooling for children in KIO-controlled areas. The KBC has a big role to play in realizing the agreements reached with the government,” he said.

Besides IDPs, the talks also focused on the elimination of drugs as well as barriers to peace in Kachin State.

KBC leaders reported on drug production in areas controlled by the Border Guard Force (BGF) in Kachin State, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in response, said that the government was working to formulate a new law on drug eradication and would cooperate with the KBC in enforcing that law.

KBC leaders urged Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to work earnestly to put an end to military assaults in Kachin State, saying that Myanmar Army assaults were the only reason for ongoing clashes in the state.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi replied that the government was not in a position to exercise direct control over the Myanmar Army, and there was only formal communication between the two sides, said Dr. Hkalam Samson.

According to a statement released by the State Counselor’s Office, the KBC also provided recommendations for the peace process and the two sides discussed the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

According to Dr. Hkalam Samson, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi suggested holding further talks with the KBC.

KBC leaders urged her to bring about peace and a federal Union. They added that the meeting with the state counselor was productive for Kachin IDPs.

Also present at the meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were the Union minister of the State Counselor’s Office U Kyaw Tint Swe, chairman of the Peace Commission Dr. Tin Myo Win, Union minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye, and the 12-member KBC delegation led by its chairman along with Dr. Hkalam Samson.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.