Unclear if Govt Will Enforce Closure of KIO Office in Myitkyina

The KIO’s TAT office was opened in Myitkyina in 2013 after resuming Kachin war in 2011.

The Burmese government’s peace negotiation body has yet to respond to an inquiry from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) about whether they will close the KIO’s Technical Advisory Team (TAT) office in Myitkyina.

The Burma Army reportedly recommended that the NRPC close the TAT office. On August 18, the Northern Command’s Maj-Gen Tayza Kyaw informed the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG)—an organization that often serves as a liaison between the KIO and the military or government—that the office should be closed.

On September 5, spokesperson for the President’s Office Zaw Htay told media outlets that the government was looking into whether the TAT office is still active, and confirmed the exchange between the Burma Army and the Kachin PCG.

“We have to review which ones are still active and which ones are inactive,” Zaw Htay said of the TAT offices.

KIO spokesperson Col Nhpan Naw Bu said that the TAT office continues to operate in the Kachin State capital.

However, Zaw Htay said that the government has never worked with the KIO’s TAT office and instead coordinates with the Kachin PCG on matters related to the peace process.

“The PCG can go to [the KIO administrative capital of] Laiza. Nobody will arrest them. Both sides have agreed that they are the facilitators,” Zaw Htay told journalists. “We’ve passed on our messages for the KIO through them. They also bring messages to us from the KIO. Under this government, we have never worked with a [KIO] TAT office.”

The KIO has had a TAT office in front of the Kachin National Manau Park in Myitkyina since 2013.

Duwa Lamai Gum Ja, who is working with the Kachin PCG, said that the TAT office should continue to exist.

“The Burma Army has said that it’s not an official office. The KIO has demanded the government’s opinion, but government has yet to reply. We will only know whether this office will continue to run in Myitkyina after we receive an official reply from the government,” he told KNG. “The TAT office is running with an official agreement from the government. In my opinion, the TAT office should exist as usual, because it provides assistance to the peace process.”

Duwa Lamai Gum Ja explained that the Kachin PCG has long worked with the KIO’s TAT office on peace matters but the government may not be aware of it. He added that it would be brought to their attention in future meetings.

Police raided the KIO’s TAT office in Myitkyina in December 2017.

The KIO is a member of Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) and is trying to negotiate with the government and military regarding a possible bilateral ceasefire agreement.

FPNCC members including the KIO opted not to attend the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference, which took place between August 19 and August 21.

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