Wednesday, April 25, 2012

KIO rejects offer to hold peace talk in Myitkyina

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:34 Phanidaa

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – As armed clashes intensify between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Burmese government, the KIO has rejected an offer to meet in Myitkyina for a fourth round of peace talks.

KIO troops engage in target practice in this file photograph. Photo: Mizzima

Spokesman La Nang said the KIO could not meet in Myitkyina at this time because the government has escalated its military activities in the area, reinforced troops near KIO headquarters in Laiza, and appeared to be preparing for an assault on KIO outposts.

He said the government recently airlifted military supplies and reinforcements to their Na Phaw outpost between the KIO’s old headquarters in Pajau and Laiza.

On Monday, at least five clashes occurred in the area controlled by the KIO 5th Brigade, including a one-hour skirmish at the government base camp in Laja village, Dauphoneyan sub-township, five miles from KIO headquarters.

Recently, government troops have been using artillery in their front line, said the KIO. Previously, artillery fire came from batteries not on the front line.

Because of the government’s continuing assaults, peace facilitator Yuap Zau Khaung said the KIO has lost confidence in the peace talks.

Still, he told Mizzima: “We are exploring ways to respond to their offer in these negotiations.”

Yuap Zau Khaung said that on April 9, peace mediators sent a letter to President Thein Sein calling for a meeting with him in Naypyitaw, but they have not yet received a reply from the government.

Thein Sein has issued orders and publicly called for government troops to stand down, but build-ups and fighting have continued, raising a question of who is in control of troops in the area. Border commanders in ethnic areas have a history of exercising individual discretion in conducting campaigns. With the introduction of the Parliament and opposition politics in Burma’s governing process, the issue of who controls the military may receive more scrutiny.

The two sides have made no concrete progress in three previous talks in Ruili, China. They agreed to wind down military activities, but there have been no signs of implementing the agreement, said the KIO.

On April 18, an article in the The Mirror, a state-run newspaper, said peace talks had made no progress “because of some stubborn hardliners in the KIO/KIA,” and lasting peace is still far from being realized.

Fighting resumed 11 months ago, and some observes say up to 50,000 war refugees have fled to refugee camps along the border area.

On Saturday, a U.N. team provided relief supplies to several thousand refugees at Inkhaungpa and Dunbuam refugee camps in Momauk Township, said relief worker Dwe Pi Sar.

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