Govt to build ‘understanding’, as army ramps up offensive

Govt to build ‘understanding’, as army ramps up offensive

On Friday, the Upper House passed a proposal calling on the government “to adopt firm principles for building mutual understanding” with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as the military continued their assault on rebel positions over the weekend.

The proposal comes as the civil government claims to be making overtures to end hostilities with the Kachin Independence Army, while the military continues to intensify their assault on rebel troops near the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) stronghold in Laiza.

“The government would enter political dialogue without ceasefire as demanded by KIO/KIA,” said Deputy Minister in the Presidental Office Aung Thein in response to the debate in the Upper House according to a report in the New Light of Myanmar.

The proposal will now head to the lower house for approval.

While goodwill was discussed in the parliament, the military continued their assault on rebel positions over the weekend.

The Burmese army reportedly captured Hkaya Bum hill station on Saturday, which was considered the last major line of defence of the rebel stronghold in Laiza.

The KIA have repeatedly called for the commencement of a political dialogue with the government before signing a ceasefire, after a similar agreement collapsed in 2011.

“We don’t want to stress on the ceasefire too much but would like to focus more on implementing a path for political dialogues” KIA spokesperson La Nan told DVB in an interview last year.

The KIA’s position stands in stark contrast to the government line, which promotes the signing of a ceasefire agreement first, followed by economic development and then a potential political dialogue in the future.

The ethnic militia signed a similar agreement in 1994; however, the deal crumbled after the militarisation of several development projects by the Burmese Army lead to encroachment into KIA territories, which resulted in the outbreak of hostilities in June 2011.

The debate in parliament on Friday also saw one MP call for the outright annihilation of the KIA if they refused to sign a ceasefire.

“I said that if the [KIO] can’t be extended an olive branch, then we should send them bullets instead,” said Union Solidarity and Development Party’s Upper House representative Hla Swe during an interview with DVB.

“So I said: how did the Second World War end? Because two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, forcing them to come and sign a peace treaty on an [American] boat.”

The former lieutenant colonel and current secretary of the No. 2 Mining Enterprise under the Natural Resources Committee also went on to accuse the KIA of extorting mining operations in Kachin state.

The Burmese government also issued a statement in Saturday’s edition of the New Light taking aim at the US’s criticism last week of the military’s ongoing offensive against the Kachin rebels.

“The press release could cause misunderstanding in the international community as it did not mention anything about terrorist actions and atrocities committed by the KIA against the innocent people,” read the report.

The statement went on to chastise the US government for using Burma rather than Myanmar – the name unilaterally chosen by the former military junta.

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