Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Don’t use force to resolve crisis, KIO warns junta

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Kachin Independence Organisation has warned the Burmese junta against using military might to suppress ethnic armed groups under ceasefire, refusing to bring its armed wing into the regime’s Border Guard Force (BGF). 

The warning came from the Kachin Independence Organisation’s (KIO) joint general secretary, Colonel Sin Wah.  “If they use military means to suppress us on the BGF issue, it will not be good for us, them or the people,” he told Mizzima. 

KIO leaders had met junta brass 15 times during the past year on the thorny issue of conversion of its armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), into the BGF, but the stalemate remains unresolved.

The junta first proposed last April the putting ethnic armed groups under ceasefire into the BGF, to be controlled by Burmese officers. The KIO rejected the idea but said it would accept placement of Kachin battalions in the federal army. 

“It depends on the government’s attitude. We do not wish to jeopardise the current peaceful situation,” Colonel Sin Wah said. 

In its biggest military build-up of the past 16 years, the military regime sent about 100 army trucks to Myitkyina, the headquarters of the junta’s northern command. This included 26 artillery tow trucks. 

The KIO has a 20,000-strong force with a regular army of 8,000 troops. Given the mounting tension they are imparting short-term emergency military training to some local residents and former servicemen. 

In its third ultimatum on the BGF issue, the junta told the United Wa State Army and the Shan State Army (North) to respond by April 22. 

The KIO held a debriefing session last Thursday at the Manau ground in Laiza, which was attended by Kachin people and grass-roots staff. KIO Vice-Chief of Staff Major General Guan Maw and General Secretary Dr. La Ja clarified the outfit’s political stance and the contentious BGF issue.

The next day a series of bombs exploded at the Asia World office building on the Myitsone hydropower project site in Kachin State. The junta asked the KIA whether it had had a hand in the blasts, which the latter denied. 

BGF battalions comprise 326 soldiers each, commanded by a total of 30 officers and other ranks from the Burmese Army. The regime will provide the salaries. The New Democratic Army – Kachin, Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation Front and the Kokang group have accepted the proposal and their armies have joined the BGF.


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