The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) has officially denounced claims that the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) requested any type of military partnership within the northern rebel territories.
KIO Vice-Chief of Staff Maj-Gen Gun Maw told DVB on Wednesday that the rumour was based on a misinterpretation of an unofficial “friendly talk”, and that the prospect of either offering military training or space to the RSO has never been discussed by the KIO’s central executive committee.
“We have never given them [the RSO] arms or military training. We have never discussed this in our central committee meetings. There was no official request to us,” the rebel leader said.
Rumours began after a YouTube video went viral over the weekend, showing a conversation between RSO representatives and KIO Col. James Lum Daum. A member of the RSO appears at one point to be requesting that the KIO accommodate the RSO in the event of an armed struggle.
“This was not an official meeting,” said Gun Maw, “Col. James [Lum Daum] didn’t report it to our Central Committee. It was just a friendly talk.”
James Lum Daum also dismissed suspicions of assistance. He explained that he had been invited to lunch with an American friend who is married to a Kachin woman living in Thailand, and that when he arrived there were about seven Muslim men present, whom he did not previously know.
After their introductions, one of the men said he was a Rohingya leader and asked if the KIO could provide a space for their army, Col. James Lum Daum said, adding that he thought the man was joking.
“It was not an official talk,” he said, explaining that it was a casual conversation with a man he didn’t know, which he entertained because he was in the company of a close friend. “I don’t want to give even one minute of my time to this kind of useless talk.”
James Lum Daum suggested that someone may have intentionally circulated the video to cause confusion and mistrust among KIO leadership as tenuous progress towards a long-awaited peace deal rolls onward.
“These are just tactics to give people headaches. I don’t want to be involved in such things. The government is fighting hard against the Kachin. This video could cause conflict or disputes among Kachin leaders. It’s psychological warfare. We don’t care about that kind of attack,” he said.