Rev. Saboi Jum, founder and chairman of the Shalom Foundation, also called the Nyein Foundation and former General Secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) met with each side individually and negotiated for peace, added the sources.
During the 50th Anniversary of Kachin Revolution Day in February, he met with two top KIO leaders, Vice-president, Lt-Gen N’ban La Awng and Vice-chairman, Lt-Gen Gauri Zau Seng, in Thailand, bringing a message from the Burmese generals.
He then returned to Burma by bringing a message from the KIO to the Burmese generals. However, the details of the secret negotiations were not released.
Saboi Jum has been questioned for his stand after he strongly advised the KIO to accept transformation into the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Force (BGF), last year.
According to officials at KIO’s Laiza headquarters in Burma’s northern Kachin State, Saboi Jum said, “The BGF is the key. And, the door can be opened with that key only”.
He strongly criticized the KIO leaders after they ignored his suggestions and released a statement rejecting the BGF proposal on August 30th, last year.
He also warned Kachin youth in the Burmese pro-democracy movement in Thailand when he met the young people on February 6th, in Chiang Mai, during a Sunday worship service at the Kachin Wunpawng Christian Church, saying they should not revolt and disobey the leaders and, “Whoever opposes the leaders will be rewarded with the punishment revealed in the Bible,”, according to church attendants.
The 16 year-old ceasefire agreement between the central government and the KIO was ended unilaterally by the government and the KIO was labeled as “insurgents” following the KIO’s rejection of the BGF.
Since then, there has been no official dialogue between the two sides, however, both sides have avoided resuming civil war, so far.
The KIO demands equal rights for Kachin people in accordance with the 1947 Panglong Agreement between ethnic Burman, Kachin, Shan and Chin leaders, which created the Union of Burma.
Based on the agreement, the Union of Burma received independence from British rule in 1948.
However, the country has been controlled by the Burman-led regimes so far.