Saturday, September 6, 2014

Clashes between Burma army and the KIO largely reduced, says KIO rep

Burmese soldiers of Light Infanty Division No. 66 soldiers secure Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state, northern Burma

Thanks in part to a committee formed between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government that is tasked with reducing tensions in northern Burma, armed clashes between KIO forces and the military have been reduced significantly, said Lahpai Gun Ja, a member of the KIO’s technical team.

“In August there was almost no fighting between the government and the KIO, it was reduced by 95%”, said Lahpai Gun Ja who is based at the KIO’s technical assistance team office in the Kachin state capital Myitkyina.

The committee was formed on May 28th following a meeting between a KIO team led by Zau Tawng and a 5 member team of government representatives led by Kachin state’s Border Affairs minister Than Aung.  The creation of the committee stemmed from an agreement made last year between the KIO and the Union Peace-Making Working Committee (UPWC).  The committee meets once a month, mostly recently on September 5th where they met at the technical team office in Myitkyina from 3 to 5pm. This was the 6th time the committee has met.

Lahpai Gun Ja said that his team and the Burmese authorities recently discussed how to tackle the region’s drug problem which has severely affected young people in both Kachin and neighboring Shan states.

“The KIO has a national duty to abolish drugs”, Lahpai Gun Ja told the Kachin News Group. 

According to Lahpai Gun Ja the KIO informed the government of their anti-drug policies and the KIO are satisfied that many members of the public have been participating with the implementation of these policies. The KIO has operated drug treatment centers in both Laiza the group’s de-facto capital and the KIO’s second town Mai Ja Yang for a number of years.

Another matter discussed between the KIO’s technical team and the government was the KIO policy for the jade rich Hpakant district in western Kachin state.  The KIO informed the government that reports suggesting that the KIO was opposing the government’s attempts to re-open the jade mines in Hpakant were false.  Such “rumors” are not true said, Lahpai Gun Ja.


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