The Tatmadaw threatened military action against the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A) if it interferes in its handling of the protests in Burma. While a KIO/A counter statement supported the people’s right to protest against the military government, it failed to criticize the coup. KNG interviewed KIO General Secretary La Nan for his thoughts on this, the demonstrations and the recent crackdown against protesters.
Why did the KIO release a statement supporting the protests in Burma against the military government?
The KIO has been closely monitoring the situation since the Burma Army seized power of the country on February 1. We alerted our KIA front line battalions but didn’t immediately release a statement about the coup in Burma. The people refused to accept the coup and started protesting against the military government. Through the Kachin PCG (Peace-talk Creation Group), on February 9, we warned the army and police not to hurt protesters. Yet security forces launched a crackdown on February 14. They (soldiers) said that they used rubber bullets. But some of the iron pots that demonstrators carried were penetrated with bullets, which means they used weapons that can kill people. During the crackdown some were wounded. We’re seriously considering whether or not to take action against this. On February 15, Lt-Gen Tayza Kyaw, acting commander of Bureau of Special Operation No-1 and former commander of Northern Military Command Region, sent a letter warning us not to interfere in the protests. They threatened to launch a military offensive. The letter said: “If the protests get worse, the Tatmadaw will use live bullets.” After this our central committee released an official statement.
Many criticized the KIO’s statement because it failed to condemn the military coup.
We wrote what we needed to and how to get what we want. But we didn’t write it in an open way. What this means is if more needs to be done we’ll release more statements at a later date. People need to understand the situation.
Many say that China is behind the coup in Burma and criticized the FPNNC (Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee) for not speaking out about it because of pressure from China.
This doesn’t concern China and the FPNCC hasn’t been pressured into silence. None of the FPNCC member groups have signed the NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement) therefore we won’t interfere in political matters in Burma.
Is there is anything else you’d like to say?
Our country has faced this kind of situation many times before. But instead of thinking about what’s important, most people only try to solve current problems. One example is demanding for the release of the political leaders who have been detained. What’s more important is to remove the dictatorship in Burma. The main problem is the 2008 Constitution. Regardless of whosoever in power, under this constitution they will become a dictator. We need to get rid of the dictatorship and then think about how to scrap the 2008 Constitution. Currently, we have the opportunity to make this happen and I want to say this is our primary objective.