Both the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burma Army can undertake a landmine removal program after the KIA signs the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), a Kachin State minister said recently in parliament.
The comment came in response to a question put forward on February 28 by the state MP for Shwegu Township Constituency 1, Tin Yu, who asked whether landmines would be removed in areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) were returning to live.
Col Nay Lin Tun, the Kachin State border affairs and security minister responded by stating that government forces had not planted the landmines in question.
“We can remove landmines after negotiations between the two forces. We need to know where the landmines are. The Tatmadaw has never planted abandoned landmines. The Tatmadaw has planted registered landmines. The Tatmadaw has only planted landmines in the military operation area, not in civilian areas,” Col Nay Lin Tun said in the parliamentary session. “What I have discussed are the KIA’s landmines. We can work together in the landmine removal process after the signing of the NCA.”
The border affairs minister suggested that villagers should report landmines to the respective authorities, and the Burma Army’s northern command would remove it.
Col Nay Lin Tun said that there were 18 documented landmine blasts in Kachin State, killing eight people and injuring 21.
A villager in the resettled IDP community of Nam San Yang stepped on a landmine on February 14 while going fishing. He had to have his leg amputated due to the injuries he sustained.
There are more than 100,000 IDPs in Kachin State due to the breakdown of a ceasefire between the Burma Army and KIA dating back to 2011.
There are 10 ethnic armed organizations signatory to the NCA. The KIA, like the majority of armed groups, has thus far opted out of it and remains in negotiations with the government regarding the accord.