As long as the present government and the military are adopting a “dual track approach” to peace in the country, the reforms will not be “irreversible”, according to veteran Burma watcher Aung Kyaw Zaw.
“The government and the military are following a dual track approach, which is potentially dangerous,” he told SHAN from his residence on the Sino-Burmese border. “If there is no change to this course of action, even those who are now saying the road is irreversible will eventually find themselves reversing.”
He was commenting on the ongoing negotiations-cum-military offensive technique being applied against the Kachin Independence Organization / Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) by Naypyitaw since June 2011.
On 16 July, U Aung Min, Vice Chairman of the Union Peacemaking Work Committee (UPWC), proposed to Laiza, the KIO/KIA headquarters on the Sino-Burmese border, that the next meeting between the two sides take place at Bhamo. He also informed the Kachin leaders the UPWC chairman Gen Soe Win, also doubling as army chief and deputy armed forces chief, would also be present at the meeting. No agenda was proposed.
At the same time, the military’s tri-annual meeting held last month in Naypyitaw had issued orders to totally eliminate the KIA and for each unit to reach its military objective before the next tri-annual meeting, according to him.
“Since the last meeting between U Aung Min and the KIO on 20 June, more than 160 clashes have taken place,” he said.
The KIO, according to him, had replied that the problem was not the venue but the agenda. The KIO had already proposed during the previous meetings where it wanted the advancing Burmese units to withdraw to. So far, there has been no encouraging response from Naypyitaw.
Aung Kyaw Zaw’s comments came two days after those of Lt-Gen Yawdserk, leader of the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) that had signed the ceasefire pact with Naypyitaw on 2 December 2011 but has already fought 25 times against attacking Burmese units since. “At first, I thought the said fights were started by lower level units. Now I’m not sure,” he told SHAN.
Since September 2011, Naypyitaw has signed ceasefire pacts with 12 armed movements. KIO/KIA remains the major armed movement still fighting. It is incidentally also the only group that had signed a ceasefire agreement during the 1989-2009 ceasefire period. Others had concluded only verbal agreements. As a result, the KIO says no new ceasefire agreement need be signed. “What matters is for each signatory to observe the terms of the bilateral agreement signed in 1994,” said a senior KIO official.