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Published on Saturday, 06 October 2012 05:30 Written by Tun Lin Aung(Myitkyina)
“Decades old civil war in the country could be termed as a political problem. The national races affairs also form part of the political problem”.
Q: Ceasefire started in 1994 between the KIA and government troops. Battles resumed in June 2011. Why?
A: Battles resumed in June 2011, but this trend was already expected. The government wants to take away arms from us. That is why the battles broke out again.
Q: How many differences are there between the government and your KIA?
A: The government troops never consider the underlying cause of civil war in the Kachin State, but instead they focus how to dismantle the arms. This is the first point. The national races armed groups are always talking about the political problems and therefore the issues are to be resolved through a correct political approach. The method to resolve the matter is through the political approach; the national races are always advocating for a better way. The Union of Myanmar emerged in 1948. In addressing the problem, the policy is to take up genuine union pattern in the context of political approach. This is the main different approach. The government is asking to come into the legal fold, and to engage in political talks in accordance with the 2008 State Constitution. That is also the main difference.
Q: How many battles broke out since June 2011?
A: According to records, there were 1,820 battles.
Q: You have met three times at the union level, three times at the state level and four times in unofficial meetings. What were the agreements reached?
A: The number of total meetings was nine times. At our venue we met with the state level team led by Colonel Than Aung. We also met with the team led by U Aung Thaung. Later we met with U Aung Min at the working level. In these meetings, we exchanged views and things went well. However, when we talked about troops matters, the representatives have no authority to decide, or to provide promise.
Q: At the last parliament session, Brigadier General Aung Thaw said that the skirmishes continued because the KIA did not discuss ceasefire deals but insisted on discussing political matters. What is your view?
A: The KIA stood on the lessons that we learned from the government side. When we signed the ceasefire agreement in 1994, we agreed to move on with the political approach. Although it has been more than 10 years, the political agenda has not come to light. Only the idea of dismantling the KIA is being pushed. We maintained ceasefire for more than 10 years. Just by mentioning the regional development, the national races armed group was undermined politically. The ceasefire is not the main element, but to take up the political issue in the discussion. If each and every discussion moves ahead in the positive direction, then there will be no battles. In fact, the issue is the political issue, and that needs to be brought to the table. The matter is not to be resolved at the war zone. It should be moved in the direction of political path as the national races demanded. If the implementation is in that direction, then the ceasefire agreement need not be signed and we automatically reach peace. We have decided to go on that path. We have chosen this journey by drawing bitter lessons from the experiences gained from 1994 to 2010.
Q: What are the bitter experiences?
A: There were many experiences. After the 1994-1995 ceasefires, we engaged in political talks. We were advised to talk with the new upcoming government. The documents that we received at the time were complicated. That was why we submitted to the National Convention many proposals on behalf of all the national races based on the genuine basic federal system. The National Convention chairman at the time was the incumbent president U Thein Sein. The official submissions of the national races were all turned down. They were about the negligence and denials of all rights on political sphere of the national races. During that period the government troops had expanded into many military camps of the KIA. The influence and rule over the lands were done within over one year. During that particular period of 1994-2010, our KIA units were overrun and our soldiers killed. Before the new civilian government was installed, we were asked to form as border guards in 2009 without using the words on political approach. These were acts not in accordance with the political approach, but to get hold of the lands from the warlords with the use of weapons.
Q: The incumbent president advised the KIA for ceasefire and to issue order to the stop offensive. What is your view?
A: This is not the right and correct solution to the problem. This is a tactic to avoid the situation. The government has been doing such scheme for over a decade, resulting in civil war that would continue and escalate. Just by signing the ceasefire agreement, the country could not be stabilized. The most vital factor is how to solve the problem. The government troops made many offensives in the Kachin State after declaring ceasefire. Most of the KIA military units were annexed by the government troops. All the military units in the Brigade -4 areas of Kachin state were attacked and abolished. In January and February 2012, all the forward military units in Brigade-3, areas were all annexed and that the units in Brigade-5 were crushed at the end of July. The term ceasefire was used as diplomatic language, but the actual events happening in the frontline was totally different. The orders coming from the army superiors were to crush on a daily basis. The events occurring in the front areas be known by the top military leaders of the nation.
Q: In which areas were the KIA military camps being attacked and overrun. How many units?
A: There were many KIA units being taken away. In July, a camp named Khaw Bwam in Brigade-5 were attacked and overrun by 200 soldiers. There was an instruction to keep ready 120-mm cannon. This camp is only seven miles away from our Camp Lizer. Moreover, our camps in Brigade-3 were attacked. Camps and troops in Brigade-4 were also attacked. The government troops beefed up strengths near our camps.
Q: We remember that KIA is the first organization to protest against the Myitsone Hydropower Dam Project. We noticed that your activities were now slowed down.
A: In connection with the Myitsone Project, we solicited the signatures of the local people to protest against the dam and forwarded the petition to Chairman Senior General Than Shwe of the State Peace and Development Council. We also forwarded the protest letter from the local people and delivered to the Chinese government. However, we did not provoke and incite the people to go on mass demonstration against the project. This is the policy of the KIO. We will never agitate and stir the population to demonstrate en masse against the project. Our approach will be all legal and legitimate.
Q: The suspension of Myitsone Project has come to its first anniversary. In 2015, what will be the outcome of the project, gain or loss? What is your opinion?
A: The most important factor depends on the agreement reached between the government and the CPI Company of mainland China. Moreover, the strong desire and determination of the population to hold on to this decision is also vital. The Kachin people will protest against the dam project for eternity.
Q: Do you have any more to tell?
A: The civil war occurring in the country for more than one decade could be termed as a political problem. The issues of the national races are also the political problem. The national hero General Aung San advocated and organized to build a genuine union since the 1946 before independence. The leaders of the national races come together under the guidance of General Aung San, and endeavored and agreed to build a genuine union.
With this agreement, the Union of Myanmar was born. The State Constitution was adopted in 1947 after the nation regained independence and it was not based on the principle of genuine union system. But it was done as if it were a true union system. This was the seed sowed to craft the civil war in the country. If the problem is to be resolved, then the battles and wars were not to be cried and called for, but address the root cause by settling through political approaches. Moreover, the government must seriously think and decide whether to go on a one-sided track by the desired pattern of the government or whether to take heed the voices of the national races. Until now, the government has not indicated to use the political ways and means nor unveiled a plan to step ahead with the genuine union method. This denial means that the government has not decided to tackle the issue of the national races with the genuine union principle, leaving the goal of internal peace far from reach.