Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A majority of participants at a congress of ethnic Kachin groups has rejected disarming despite a Burmese military junta threat to end the ceasefire between the two sides, a spokesman said. Meanwhile, the main Kachin militia are gearing up for war, a soldier told Mizzima.
Women soldiers of the Kachin Independence Army parade in the ethnic group’s Sino-Burmese border stronghold of Laiza. The militia is gearing up for war with the Burmese Army as a junta-imposed deadline for it to disarm approaches next Wednesday, a KIA source said on Friday, August 27, 2010. Photo: Mizzima
The junta deadline for the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) to reply to its order for the group’s estimated 20,000 troops to disarm is September 1. The congress opened today in the Kachin stronghold of Laiza, a town near the Chinese border in Burma’s far north, and will end tomorrow (Saturday).
The 140 delegates from 18 districts who attended the congress all passed on their views that the KIO should retain its arms, one of the participants aid.
“The congress will continue tomorrow as we haven’t made a final decision. The aim of today’s meeting was just to collect the opinions from the delegates. From my point of view, we shouldn’t hand over our guns to the junta,” the KIO spokesman said.
Delegates from the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), were absent because they were preparing for war, a KIA soldier told Mizzima.
The deadline was delivered on Sunday at a meeting between the junta’s main negotiator with ethnic armed groups, Military Affairs Security chief Lieutenant General Ye Myint, and KIO delegates, at the Burmese Army’s Northern Command headquarters in Myitkyina, the state capital. He told the KIO that if the KIA failed to surrender its arms in the time allotted, the ceasefire would end.
Ye Myint went on to meet Zone Teet Yame from the junta’s Border Guard Force (BGF) and Lasang Aung Was from the people’s militia and told them to arrest former KIO staff from the beginning of next month, an officer from the militia, who attended the meeting, said on condition of anonymity.
The KIO had said it would neither contest nor disturb the forthcoming elections on November 7.
It held a meeting with Kachin leaders and Christian leaders to gain their input from August 14 to 16, views that will be taken into account while reaching the final decision at this weekend’s congress.
In the last month, Ye Myint has been touring the country, pressuring armed ethnic ceasefire groups to bring themselves under junta command within the Burmese Army’s BGF and imposed the same September 1 (next Wednesday) deadline on the New Mon State Party (NMSP).
Last Friday he told United Wa State Army leaders in Tangyang that the junta would send the army into four townships in Wa-controlled territory the same day as security for electoral commissioners. The Wa leaders said they would defy the move.