A Thanksgiving event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kachin Independence Organization’s (KIO) Department of General Administration (DGA) is scheduled for November 14-15 in Laiza, Kachin State.
It is the biggest celebration organized by the KIO in the eight years since armed conflict resumed with the Burma Army in the region.
“We will hold a Thanksgiving party and retell the history of the DGA,” Labang Doi Pyisa, Assistant General Secretary 2 of KIO, told KNG.
The KIO formed the DGA in 1969 and includes the KIO’s police force, fire brigade and immigration department along the China-Burma border in Kachin State. The DGA also operates a leadership training program.
“In the very early stages of the KIO, we called administrators ‘organizers.’ They persuaded the people to participate in the revolution,” Labang Doi Pyisa told KNG of the initial stages of the DGA.
There were only two general administration departments in Kachin State and northern Shan State when the DGA was formed. There are currently nine regional administration departments, more than 40 district administration departments, more than 100 township administration departments and more than 200 village tract administration departments under the DGA.
While conflict with the Burma Army has intensified in northern Shan State and Rakhine State against groups including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Arakan Army, Kachin State has seen relatively few clashes over the last year. Yet the area is far from stable, with more than 100,000 people displaced by civil war, living in makeshift camps without adequate access to aid and increasingly concerned about losing their ancestral farms to land grabs. Some 80,000 of these people are in KIO-controlled areas.
Chairperson of the KIO Gen N’Ban La has engaged in negotiations with the Burmese government regarding the possible signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement, and the conditions required for internally displaced villagers to be able to return to their homes. He spoke on the issue on the 59th anniversary of the KIO’s founding on October 25.
A 17-year ceasefire between the KIO and the Burma Army broke down in June 2011, leading to eight years of civil war.
The KIO is among the majority of armed organizations in Burma that opted out of signing the so-called Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military in 2015.