KIO agrees to take part in Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­

Over the week­end, the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­gan­i­sa­tion sig­nalled its in­ten­tion to sup­port the re­newed peace process ef­forts by agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the up­com­ing con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw.

THE Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­gan­i­sa­tion has agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence which con­venes in Nay Pyi Taw on Au­gust 31, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the group on Au­gust 27.

The state­ment, signed by Gen­eral Gun Maw, deputy com­man­der-in-chief of the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army – the armed wing of the KIO – said the group’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­fer­ence comes in the spirit of co­op­er­a­tion with the United Nationalities Fed­eral Coun­cil, and not be­cause of pres­sure from the Myan­mar mil­i­tary.

Mem­bers of the UNFC com­mit­ted last week to at­tend the con­fer­ence fol­low­ing a two-day “emer­gency meet­ing” in Chi­ang Mai, Thai­land. The coun­cil is an alliance of seven eth­nic armed groups, in­clud­ing the KIO.

The KIO state­ment said, “Ac­cord­ing to the UNFC’s de­ci­sion, 24 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the KIO will at­tend the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence which will be held on Au­gust 31 in Nay Pyi Taw. The rep­re­sen­ta­tives are now pre­par­ing to par­tic­i­pate.”

Al­though no de­ci­sions will be made at the con­fer­ence, the KIO will at­tend to be part of the be­gin­ning of the re­newed peace process, the state­ment said.

Kuu Oo Yal, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the UNFC, said, “Lead­ers from each rep­re­sented group will make a speech. That’s the for­mat of the con­fer­ence, which is just the open­ing cer­e­mony of the peace process. We don’t ex­pect many re­sults – it’s just the start­ing point.”

The UNFC will have 158 rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the con­fer­ence, he said.

Kachin hu­man­i­tar­ian worker and re­cently re­leased po­lit­i­cal pris­oner Patrick Kum Ja Lee said the KIO state­ment in­di­cated that the or­gan­i­sa­tion was tak­ing part in the con­fer­ence be­cause they are mem­bers of the UNFC.

“I think they also want the other eth­nic armed or­gan­i­sa­tions to par­tic­i­pate, mean­ing the TNLA, the AA and the MNDAA,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army, the Arakan Army and the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Alliance Army.

The three groups have been en­gaged in ac­tive hos­til­i­ties with the Tat­madaw since a ma­jor flare-up in Fe­bru­ary 2015 in the Kokang self­ad­min­is­tered ar­eas. Ear­lier this month they had ex­pressed in­ter­est in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence but have not been in­vited to at­tend.

Patrick Kum Ja Lee said he did not think the gov­ern­ment was tak­ing a “sin­cere” ap­proach to the con­fer­ence.

“The gov­ern­ment has not yet re­vealed their in­ten­tions. [State Coun­sel­lor] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the mil­i­tary are al­ways talk­ing about the Pan­g­long spirit, but why don’t they abide by the orig­i­nal Pan­g­long Agree­ment signed in 1947?” he said.

Mean­while, fight­ing con­tin­ues in ar­eas of Kachin and north­ern Shan states be­tween the Tat­madaw and some eth­nic armed groups.

Ko Aung Myo San, a youth ac­tivist from Bhamaw/Bhamo, Kachin State, con­firmed that fight­ing had oc­curred be­tween the KIA and the Tat­madaw along the My­itky­ina-Bhamo road in Waing­maw town­ship as re­cently as Au­gust 27.

On Au­gust 25, two vil­lagers were injured when a skir­mish erupted be­tween the Tat­madaw and the TNLA in Namkham town­ship in north­ern Shan State, ac­cord­ing a TNLA an­nounce­ment.

‘Why don’t they abide by the orig­i­nal Pan­g­long Agree­ment signed in 1947?’

Patrick Kum Ja Lee Kachin hu­man­i­tar­ian worker

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