Displaced Villagers Can Go Home If A Ceasefire Is Signed: Kachin Organizations Say

Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson at KNCA press conference on Jun. 9, 2020 in Myitkyina, Kachin State.

On the anniversary of the conflict in Kachin State, the Kachin National Consultative Assembly (KNCA) stated that all internally displaced persons (IDPs) would be able to return to their homes if the warring parties sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, chair of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and adviser to KNCA, told KNG that he urged the Kachin Independence Organization (KIA) and Burma Army to ink out a peace deal, so everyone can go home.

KNCA held a press conference at its Myitkyina office during the June 9 anniversary, which marked nine years since a seventeen-year ceasefire unravelled between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in 2011.

A KNCA statement called for landmines to be removed and military camps to be withdrawn near villages, and alternative locations made for those who do not want to return to their places of origin.

The Kachin Joint Strategy Team, a coalition of Kachin civil society organizations, released a statement calling for a nationwide ceasefire, human rights, and humanitarian assistance.

Although some Kachin have returned home, the coalition estimates there are still more than 120,000 IDPs remaining in 170 camps scattered across Kachin and Shan states.

While the Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC) has been negotiating with the government to return some of the IDPs to their homes, new fighting between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army, the military arm for the KIO, started in Muse Township, located in northern Shan State.

“The KHCC’s main objective is to negotiate between the government and EAOs to return internally displaced persons,” says Pastor Hka Li, the KBC’s head. “Nothing is certain until both sides agree to a ceasefire.”

Since the failure to implement the 1947 Panglong Agreement, there’s been civil war in Burma, says the Kachin State People’s Party. It is a political problem and it is imperative that the fighting ends and political dialogue starts without further delay, the party says.

Representatives of the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center met with members of the Northern Alliance, which KIO is part of, in the Chinese city Kunming earlier this year. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, peace talks have been suspended.

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