Despite regional pressure to avoid clashes, KIA vows to ‘fight against dictatorship’

China has urged the Kachin Independence Organisation/Army (KIO/A) to refrain from fighting the Myanmar military, including in areas near the Chinese border, ahead of the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, according to a KIO statement published on Wednesday. 

The statement said the request was a serious matter to be addressed for regional security. 

“To overcome the current crises and to bring about the federal democracy that the public has been hoping for, the KIO’s central committee will collaborate with all the organisations that we can,” the statement said.

KIO spokesperson Col Naw Bu confirmed that the Chinese government had reached out to the group, asking them to not clash with the Myanmar army throughout February, when the Winter Olympic Games and Paralympics are scheduled to take place.

He acknowledged the importance of regional stability, but told Myanmar Now that his organisation would continue to oppose the junta. 

“We stand for the end of the dictatorship. We are upholding our goal, which is to fight against the dictatorship alongside other organisations that share our common goal,” he said.

The KIO’s Wednesday announcement was not a request for other armed groups to stop fighting the junta nor a ceasefire offer to the military council, Col Naw Bu explained. 

The seven-point statement condemned widespread displacement in Myanmar and called on the military to respect the political wishes of the people, to stop targeting civilians, and allow for humanitarian aid to reach the public.

The KIO also warned that the military would be faced with total decimation if battles with resistance forces continue in the long-term. 

The military council has not responded to the KIO’s statement.

Junta-controlled newspapers reported on the same day that on Monday the army had confiscated commodities from a civil society organisation in Loikaw, Karenni State that they alleged were intended for distribution to the anti-dictatorship People’s Defence Force.

Among the seized items were thousands of instant noodle packs, preserved meat, cooking oil, and basic hygiene supplies, according to photos released by the military.

It is assumed that the items were donations for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Karenni State. 

Col Naw Bu criticized the military for preventing the aid from reaching people in need. 

“The military is trying to intercept the support provided by the international community for the IDPs. It’s very worrying,” he said.

The KIA, whose headquarters are in Laiza on the Kachin State-China border, has seized multiple Myanmar army bases and outposts since the military coup on February 1 last year. The organisation has also collaborated with the underground National Unity Government, and provided shelter and military training for civilians who have chosen to join the armed struggle against the junta. 

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