Friday, October 23, 2009

Rebels asked to form Border Guard Force in Burma

Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) Burma’s rebel group, said they are willing to abandon arms struggle provided the ruling junta guarantees equal rights to both ethnics and Burmans agreed in the historic Panlong agreement.KIO Secretary Dr. La Ja said the KIO had informed their stand to the junta’s Supremo Snr Gen Than Shwe in a letter sent to him in September. The letter states that if the junta accepts the Panlong Agreement and is willing to uphold, the KIO is ready to abandon arms struggle, in which case it will not be necessary to transform its armed wing into the ‘Border Guard Force’ proposed by the regime. “We are bringing up the Panlong Agreement again because we have to reconsider about the ‘Union’ of Burma. If there is a ‘Union’, we must recognize the ‘Union’ because the ‘Union’ emerged from the ‘Panlong’ Agreement,” Dr. La Ja told Mizzima from the KIO headquarters in Laiza in Kachin State. “The letter was sent for understanding and consideration, not for talks. We cannot say yet if they will respond and how so. It’s up to them,” he added. The architect of Burma’s independence General Aung San and leaders of ethnic Kachin, Chin and Shan gathered in Panlong town of Shan State and signed the historic ‘Panlong Agreement’, which guaranteed equal rights for all ethnic nationalities on 12 February 1947. While the KIO is emphasizing on equal rights, the Thailand-based Kachin News Group (KNG) said, the Kachin Independence Army’s 4th brigade based in Lao Kai region of Northern Shan State is being pressurized by the regime to divide its troops into three small groups or leave their area. However, Dr. La Ja denied of the information. “We have not been informed. We have not received any letter regarding withdrawal of the 4th Brigade from the area. There is no problem for the 4th Brigade,” he said, adding that there are no tensions amounting between the KIO and the regime in recent days. While the regime has set October as the deadline for all ceasefire groups to transform their armies into the Border Guard Force (BGF), KIO along with several other groups have rejected the proposed but offered another proposal of transforming into a ‘Kachin Regional Guard Force’ (KRGF). “We will wait and see how they respond to our counter proposal. We expect a positive response from the regime. We told them that we accepted transformation and transition but we have to seek a solution peacefully and amicably,” Dr. La Ja said, adding that the KIO do not like to solve the problem militarily. Though the KIO and other ceasefire groups are under pressure for transformation, several KIO leaders have withdrawn their membership from the group to prepare for candidacy in the 2010 election. In early September, six KIO high-ranking officials including Dr. Mana Tu Ja, vice-president (2) of the KIO, announced their resignation from the armed group in order to prepare and form the Kachin State Progressive Party (KSPP), to be contesting in the 2010 elections. Meanwhile, the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), another Kachin ceasefire armed group, has accepted the junta’s offer of transforming their army into the BGF.

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