Military Offensives Threaten to Interrupt Peace Process, Says KIO

By Saw Yan Naing 11 October 2016

RANGOON — The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) has warned that ongoing clashes threaten to derail the country’s peace process unless the government halts its military offensives in the KIO’s territory.

“If the current offensive continues, it will interrupt the peace process that we are dealing with. Civil war could also grow and spread into different parts of Kachin State and will have an unnecessary negative impact. The Tatmadaw is responsible for it,” Lt-Col Naw Bu, an official with the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) information department, told The Irrawaddy.

He also said that the offensive has made the KIO seriously reconsider the peace process; if it continues, it will be difficult for the organization to proceed with future political dialogue.

Fighting has continued this week, as local sources in Kachin State report the Burma Army’s use of jet fighters and heavy artillery on both Monday and Tuesday against KIA outposts.

Thousands of Kachin people took to the streets on Monday in the Kachin State jade mining town of Hpakant, calling on the Burma Army to stop the offensives, criticizing the Tatmadaw for the attacks during a time when the government is engaging in peace talks with ethnic armed organizations.

Speaking with The Irrawaddy from Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, Khin Maung Myint, an ethnic Kachin MP from the National League for Democracy, said that it is “inappropriate” for the Burma Army to launch offensives against the KIO.

“War is good for no one. It doesn’t matter whether it is soldiers of the Tatmadaw or the KIO who die—it is very sad to see,” said Khin Maung Myint. “We are totally against the current offensives by the Tatmadaw, which were launched while ethnic leaders and the State Counselor are attempting to rebuild the country,” he added.

The current offensive against the KIA is seen by both the organization and the Kachin public as a way to pressure the armed group to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). The KIO along with the majority of the country’s armed groups opted out of becoming signatories in October 2015, citing a lack of inclusivity.

On Oct. 1, a two-year-old Kachin child was killed after an artillery shell—believed to have been fired by the Burma Army—exploded near her family home in Shan State’s Muse Township. Another two children were seriously injured in the blast.

The Irrawaddy’s reporter Nang Lwin Hnin Pwint also contributed into this story.