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Flag of the Kachin Independence Army.

The Kachin Independence Army (Burmese language: ကချင် လွတ်မြောက်ရေး တပ်မတော်; abbreviated KIA) is the military arm of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), a political group composed of ethnic Kachins in northern Burma (Myanmar). The Kachins are a coalition of six tribes whose homeland encompasses territory in Yunnan, China and Northeast India, in addition to Kachin State in Burma. In May 2012, the Associated Press reported that the rebel group had 8,000 troops.[1]

The KIA formed in 1961 February 5 in response to a military coup in Burma led by General Ne Win, who attempted to consolidate Burmese control over regions on the periphery of the state which were home to various ethnic groups. From 1961 until 1994, the KIA fought a grueling and inconclusive war against the Burmese junta. Originally the KIA fought for independence, but now the official KIO policy goal is for autonomy within a federal union of Burma.[citation needed]

The 1994 ceasefire agreement between the KIA and the Burmese junta froze the conflict in place.[citation needed] The KIA has not disarmed or surrendered, and continues to recruit, train and mobilize soldiers.[2] Prior to the ceasefire the KIA was predominantly a low-tech guerilla force, but peace has provided the breathing room to establish a military academy and design rigorous officer training programs.[3]

The KIA is fully funded by the KIO, which raises revenue through taxes (in their area) and trading the resources such as jade, timber and gold. Although well equipped for jungle warfare, the KIA does not have much modern weaponry.[citation needed] Their rifles are a motley collection of AK-47s, their own made rifles such as KA-07, and commanders claim to have some artillery. KIA headquarters is located outside the town of Laiza, in southern Kachin state near the Chinese border.[2] Former headquarters, located at Pajau, are a 2-3 hour drive from Laiza, high in the mountains along the border.[citation needed]

Although the ceasefire between the government and the KIA has endured since 1994,[4] in 2009 many Kachins expected a renewed outbreak of war in conjunction with elections scheduled for 2010. The Military junta that runs Burma demanded that all ethnic armies disarm before the 2010 general elections because the new constitution requires only one army in Burma. According to Gen. Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the chief of staff of the KIA, the demands to disarm were "not acceptable" because he regards that disarming KIA does not guarantee peace between the Military junta and KIA.[5] In February 2010 Alastair Leithead reported for the BBC that KIA's Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Gam Shawng said "I can't say if there will be war for sure, but the government wants us to become a border guard force for them by the end of the month", and "We will not do that, or disarm, until they have given us a place in a federal union and ethnic rights as was agreed in Panglong Agreement in 1947".[2]

In October 2010 KIA commanders informed the BBC that they have "10,000 regular troops and 10,000 reservists", but the BBC had no way to confirm this,[4] and in 2009 Thomas Fuller of the New York Times estimated their numbers at about 4,000 active soldiers.[5] The soldiers are divided into five brigades, plus one mobile brigade. Most are stationed in bases close to the Chinese border, in strips of territory held by the KIO.[5] One brigade is stationed in northern Shan state, where there is a large Kachin population.[citation needed]

New outbreak of violence in 2011-2012

In 2011, general Sumlut Gun Maw confirmed renewed fighting in the state of Kachin for independence.[6][7] One of the new reasons for the ending of the ceasefire is the creation of the Myitsone Dam which requires the submergence of dozens of villages in Kachin state.[8]

The 2011–2012 Kachin Conflict in 2011 had displaced between 35,000 and 75,000 people and killed hundreds.[9]

Factions

New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) is a defected part of KIA led by Zahkung Ting Ying which affiliated with Burma Communist Party in 1968 before it was created as NDAK formally in Dec 1989.[10]

See also

Notes

References

Further reading

  • Bertil, Lintner (2002). "The Kachin: Lords of Burma's Northern Frontier". Art Media Resources. ISBN 1-876437-05-7. 
  • Tucker, Shelby (2001). "Among Insurgents: Walking Through Burma". Flamingo;. ISBN 0-00-712705-7. 

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