Sunday, March 11, 2012

Burmese Army needs to withdraw its troops for peace

Three days of talks between Burmese government and Kachin Independence Organization concluded on March 10 at 2:50 pm. No comprehensive ceasefire agreement was signed in this meeting.
The main obstacle to reach a ceasefire agreement in this meeting was Burmese government’s refusal to withdraw its troops from conflict areas. Kachin delegation repeatedly asked to withdraw newly deployed battalions from lower Burma and Light Infantry Divisions that were established to fight against foreign invasions and now deploying across Kachin State.  Most local villagers are afraid to go back to their own villages as long as there is a Burmese Army outpost near their villages, said a Kachin delegate.
Kachin representatives pointed out that in 1994 when both sides signed a ceasefire agreement, there were only 18 Burmese Army battalions deployed in Kachin areas, but in 2011 the number reached to 80 battalions. Kachin delegation therefore asked the real intention behind the push for a hasty ceasefire agreement while Burmese Army has dramatically increased its troops in recent months.
Burmese government delegation repeated its push for a ceasefire agreement and said that only KIO is left to sign a ceasefire agreement with government and all other ethnic nationalities already have signed agreements and warned not to rely on United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) as it is just in name.
Kachin delegation said the Kachins had never been conquered by the Burmans in the past but hoping for equal rights Kachins had signed Panglong Agreement that had never been honored by successive Burmese governments. In KIO’s demand, a Panglong like conference, that involves government and all other ethnic nationalities, to be held in the near future to achieve a consensus statement that reflects agreement between different stake holders.
After three days of discussion, both sides agree to set up a liaison post as an initial step to discuss withdrawal of troops. A draft statement was finally agreed by both sides. The statement said that both side are encouraged by the progresses of the meetings, the level of trust has increased, future meetings will discuss political issues, troops in conflict areas will be reduced by both sides, and a date will be set to discuss withdrawal of troops from conflict areas.


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