Tatmadaw Pressures KIO to End Alliance With Arakan Army

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Burma Army’s Northern Command sent a message last week to the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) through the Myitkyina-based Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) not to accept any presence of the Arakan Army (AA) in KIO territory.

Lamai Gum Ja, who works with the PCG, said that the message came in a meeting on March 20. The Kachin PCG has been working as a mediator between the Burma Army and the KIO.

The head of the Northern Command sent a message to the KIO through us, about moving AA troops out of [the KIO’s] control area,” Lamai Gum Ja told NMG.

The warning was that the Burmese military would be targeting AA troops, so the KIO should not allow them to remain in their area.

“They won’t attack the KIO. They don’t have a problem with the KIO. But AA troops are present in the KIO headquarters, so they will attack the AA troops,” Lamai Gum Ja said, adding that he passed on the message to the KIO.

According to the PCG, the AA has only undertaken military training in the KIO headquarters in Laiza but does not consider the area its own headquarters.

The Burmese government declared the AA a terrorist organization on March 23. The anti-terrorism central committee issued the designation with government approval in coordination with Burma’s Anti-Terrorism Law, Section 6-e and 72-b.

They alleged that the AA is attacking Burma Army troops, police, and security outposts and using locals as cover. They also accused the AA of killing and abusing village administrators, civil servants and civilians, as well as using landmines around villages.

The Burma Army has been accused of similar crimes by ethnic armed groups, civil society, and international organizations for decades.

Observers say that the designation of the AA as a terrorist organization is an attempt to isolate the group.

“The army wants to cut off the AA’s military training in Laiza and its support chain. I think it’s based on this, that the army is putting pressure on the KIO,” political analyst Maung Maung Soe told NMG.

Spokesperson for the AA Khine Thukha said that the military’s message to the KIO had not reached him.

The KIO had not responded for comment at the time of reporting.

The KIO, AA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army are members of the Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee, and have negotiated with the government around the possible signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.