Tuesday, December 19, 2006

KIO Asks Junta to Stop Military Exercises

By Khun Sam
December 19, 2006 Irrawaddy.org

Kachin Independence Army

The Kachin Independence Organization, an ethnic ceasefire group, has called on the Burmese junta to halt military exercises near its headquarters on Laisin Mountain near the China-Burma border.

The request came during a meeting between the KIO and junta officers at Myitkyina, the Kachin State capital, last week. The Burmese army has been conducting exercises in Samar Region near Wai Maw Township of Kachin State, about 20 miles from the KIO's army wing of the Kachin Independence Army headquarters.

Lt-Col Nuk Gan, a KIO central committee member, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the group’s general secretary Dr La Ja and Vice General-Secretary Sumlut Gun Maw met with the Burmese deputy northern commander, Brig-Gen San Tun.

“He told us that the case would be considered,” Nuk Gan said. “It was a big concern for us and the local people.”

The Kachin community in-country and abroad, including the London-based Kachin National Organization, have also raised their concerns, saying the exercises
threaten all Kachin ceasefire groups and peace in the region.

The KNO said the junta is toying with ethnic ceasefire groups instead of finding solutions through peaceful and political means. The Burmese military has dramatically increased its presence in Kachin State and often enters into Kachin ceasefire-group controlled areas, creating instability in the region, the KNO said.

KNO also said the junta often claims the military exercises are conducted “to prevent an invasion from abroad,” but their real mission is “to crush all ethnic
armed groups in the country.”

The junta has recently intensified military operations against ethnic insurgent groups in Karen, Mon and Shan States. Critics says the KIO became a target of the regime following the biggest Kachin ceasefire group’s refusal to join the regime-led condemnation of the inclusion of Burma on the UN Security Council agenda in September this year.

Sources close to the KIO said the recent military pressure increased after the KIO held secret security meetings with other ethnic armed groups in which they discussed solidarity issues, should the regime-led national convention not achieve ethnic-group goals.

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