KIO Says Army Offensives Undermine Peace Process

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Central Committee released a statement on 8 October accusing the Burma Army of undermining the ongoing peace process.

The KIO, Burma’s second strongest ethnic armed group has been at odds with the military since June 2011, when its 17-year ceasefire with the central government ended in dramatic fashion.

The KIO statement highlighted how the army has stepped up its attacks on KIO positions in recent months, something that the KIO says has seriously affected the peace process.

The KIO said: “While the current government is trying to initiate a dialogue process by political means, the Tatmadaw is taking advantage of the situation by launching heavy military attacks on the KIO’s strategic military posts with the intention of seizing them. These kind of military actions are undermining and interrupting the genuine peace, which is just emerging.”

The KIO noted that the army started its latest offensive in August while the group was preparing to take part in Aung San Suu Kyi’s Union Peace Conference (21st Century Panglong Conference).

The 8 October statement said: “While in preparation to attend the 21st Century Panglong conference, the Tatmadaw suddenly attacked the Kachin Independence Army’s 3rd Battalion;’s post at Lai Hpawng on August 16 2016, and, on August 17, the Tatmadaw launched a surprise attack on KIA’s 252nd Battalion’s frontline post at Nhkram and seized control. From then to date the Tatmadaw has launched numerous attacks using disproportionate force including heavy air strikes in order to capture the KIA’s [Kachin Independence Army’s] Gidon post.”

Reached for comment by Kachin News Group (KNG) the KIO’s Information Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Naw Buu reiterated the KIO’s stance that the army was to blame for the situation.

He said: “Big wars have broken out in the country due to the offensives of the Burma Army.”

The army also stands accused of putting refugees in danger with its attacks on the KIO.

Following a meeting of the Kachin Women’s Peace Forum in Myitkyina, the forum issued a statement on 1st October explaining the risks internally displaced people (IDPs) faced.

The statement said: “Shells have exploded near IDP camps and villages, causing injury among civilians, including children. Every day, children, [the] elderly and women are living in fear, facing physical and mental insecurity.”

According to the statement: “On September 25, at 5 am, three 81 mm shells exploded near Munglai Hkyet and Wai Chyai IDP camps in Bhamo District, and on September 28, fighting intensified near Maga Yang IDP camp in Myitkyina District. On October 1 at 6 am, fighting took place in Buwan village, Mong Ko tract, northern Shan State, and three children, aged 6, 5 and 2 years old were seriously injured. The 2-year-old child died immediately, and the other two are in critical condition”.

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