KIA: Govt Needs to Control Its Military

By Nyein Nyein 10 October 2016

CHIANG MAI, Thailand – While Burma Army’s air strikes continue on Kachin Independence Army (KIA) security outposts in northern Burma, the KIA, its political wing and the Kachin public are calling for a halt to the offensives, as well as a government intervention.

Lt-Col Naw Bu, a KIA spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that as of Monday, Tatmadaw troops, including both the ground and air forces, were still attacking the KIA post known as Gidon in the Nhkram mountain range.

“The Tatmadaw’s two jet fighters have been bombing the Gidon post since 8:30 a.m. and then continued shooting from the ground with artillery,” he said.

In order to overcome obstacles to building peace in the country, the government needs to control its military, the lieutenant colonel added.

“The [National League for Democracy] government is keeping their mouths shut while the Tatmadaw is fiercely attacking the KIO. We, as well as our people, do not want that,” Naw Bu said, referring to the Kachin Independence Organization and the Kachin public.

Tensions have increased in Kachin and northern Shan states—where the KIA is active—since the first session of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference concluded in early September.

The Tatmadaw has used its artillery and air force to target the KIA’s security posts around its headquarters in Laiza, on the Kachin-China border. On Oct. 1, a two-year-old Kachin child was killed by the splinters of an artillery shell that hit near her family home in Puwang village in Shan State’s Muse Township. Another two children were seriously injured and admitted to the Mangsi Hospital in China.

Since last week, thousands of Kachin State residents have been holding protests and calling for an end to the Tatmadaw’s offensives against the KIA.

On Monday, ethnic Kachin community members staying in Chiang Mai, Thailand urged the NLD government to intervene to end the war in Kachin State and to order the Burma Army to stop offensives against the KIA.

Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Burmese Consulate in Chiang Mai, demanding the government and the Burma Army take responsibility and respond with immediate action. Their requests included a stop to offensives and the launching of artillery into civilian villages, the allowance of better access to humanitarian aid, and a safe return for the internally displaced people and refugees to their homes.

The protesters delivered a letter to the mailbox of the Burmese Consulate, as consulate officials were not there to receive it.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Laureate and as the head of state, she must order the military to halt the offensives,” said Ah Jung, a pastor of a Kachin community church and a protester.

Hka Tawn, a Kachin woman living in Chiang Mai who participated in Monday’s protest told The Irrawaddy that the protest was one of solidarity.

“We Kachin staying in Thailand do not want to see the troubles facing our fellow Kachin in Burma, that’s why we came to protest to show our support,” she said.

On Saturday, Oct 8, the Kachin Independence Organization and the ethnic armed alliance known as the United Nationalities Federal Council both issued separate statements calling for end to the Tatmadaw’s military action in the region.

The Tatmadaw will have to take responsibility for the consequences following its attacks against the KIO, the KIO’s statement said.

KIO representatives joined the 21st Century Panglong conference, in which stakeholders presented their stances on building a future federal democratic state. Meanwhile the Burma Army stayed firm on their adherence to the controversial 2008 Constitution. Conference organizers stressed that those groups that did not sign the country’s nationwide ceasefire pact—such as the KIA/KIO—would not have equal negotiating status in the peace process as those who signed the pact in October 2015.

Nang Lwin Hnin Pwint contributed to this report.