To Hopeland and Back: 27th trip

Day Five. Thursday, 16 February 2017

You are a reasonable man.
It’s just that you’ve never been approached the right way.
Mareen O’Hara, The Redhead from Wyoming (1953)

The KNU delegation with the cadet 
school faculty, 16 February 2017. (Photo: PI)
The meeting today with the KIO CEC lasts 5 hours, 08:00-13-00, with a 20minute break in-between.

Gen N’Ban La opens the meeting:

·        We had jointly drafted the NCA, but were unable to sign it. The reason was the government had spurned the all inclusive principle
·        When it comes to political matters, we follow the decisions of the UNFC
·        At Mai Ja Yang (July 2016), both signatories and non-signatories were able to adopt the 8 point federal guideline

(For those readers, who are unfamiliar with the guideline, which was first adopted in 2005 by Thai border-based organizations, here it is:

1.     Sovereign powers derive from the people
2.     Equality of all national races, both political and racial wise
3.     Right of Self Determination
4.     Federal principles
5.     Minority rights
6.     Democracy, human rights and gender equality
7.     Secular State
8.     Multi-party democratic system)

·        Other obstacles to negotiations included the resolution by Shan State legislature designating us as terrorist organizations
·        We are disappointed the NLD government has nothing to say about it despite overwhelming support for her during the 2015 polls by the Kachin people
·        Please regard criticisms between us (signatories and non-signatories) as flowers thrown at each other

Other than him, there’s only Gen Gun Maw who takes the floor, despite the presence of several prominent leaders like Sumlut Gam, Lanan, and Laphai La, to name a few.

Gun Maw strongly supports the cooperation among SMJH and Karen Unity and Peace Committee (KUPC) of which KNU is a member and Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), of which RCSS is a member.

Altogether, the three EAOs will be working together at least in three areas:

·        Cooperation among SMJH, KUPC and CSSU
·        Panglong Handbook publication
·        The 8 point federal guidelines

The KA 25, produced by 
KIA factory. (Photo:PI)
Gen N’Ban La concludes the meeting with the remark: Signing the NCA means submission to the 2008 constitution.

Which seems to be different what he had said on 20 January. The thought comes to me that maybe he is reflecting the general view of the KIO CEC. (Col Hkun Okker later recalled that at the Lawkhilar Conference in 2015, the matter was already resolved by the decision that signing the NCA would not mean accepting the 2008 constitution.)

In the afternoon, we visit three places:

·        The Cadet Training School, where its 7th intake (65 cadets) are due to wind up their training by the end of the month.  Needless to say, we also visit the spot where 23 cadets were killed by shelling from the Burma Army on 18 November 2014.
·        Forward base facing the Burma Army bases where we see several KIA fighters from Battalion #23 armed with the Kachin version of AK47s, renamed KA 25. They are lighter than AKs and MAs, we are told.
·        School for administrators, where they are training 80 trainees (5 of them women). The KIO has divided the Kachin State into several administrative levels:

5 divisions
20 districts
60 townships
194 tracts

The KNU delegation with the KIA cadets, 
16 February 2017. (Photo: PI)
The day ends with a 3 hour discussion on SSR/DDR between the KNU’s JMC expert Ta Do Moo and top KIA officers led by deputy chief of staff Brig Gen Khawng Lum.

The next day we are back in Kunming.

The following day is spent reviewing our trip. All conclude that it has been a rewarding trip that further cements the relations between the signatories and non-signatories.

The problem of being signatories and non-signatories still persists nevertheless. To this, the review session decides to leave well enough alone. That a policy other than the respect for each other’s right of self-determination will ruin any progress we have made.

On 19 February, we are back in Chiangmai.


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