KBC: Ceasefire Between Tatmadaw, Northern Alliance A ‘Major Factor in IDP Return’

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has asked that the Burma Army sign a ceasefire with the four members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups simultaneously in order to move forward with the resettlement of displaced communities, the KBC’s chairperson told NMG.

“A bilateral ceasefire agreement between the Burma Amy and KIA (Kachin Independence Army) is a major factor in Kachin IDP (internally displaced people) return,” KBC chairperson Dr. Hkalam Samson said. “To get this done, the Tatmadaw needs to accept the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the four members of the Northern Alliance at the same time… After that, different organizations can discuss their policies. Then IDPs can return home safely.”

Dr. Hkalam Samson said that the message was delivered to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi during a meeting at the KBC’s office at Myitkyina on Thursday. The meeting, he said, helped to build trust.

“The State Counsellor told us that Christian organizations understand peace because Jesus wanted peace. We also discussed how we need justice, and how we can cooperate with government in the future,” Dr. Hkalam Samson told NMG.

In the past, the Burma Army has reportedly asked that bilateral ceasefires be agreed to with each Northern Alliance member group separately, rather than signed together.

Government representatives and members of the Northern Alliance—the KIA, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and Arakan Army—held an informal meeting in China on December 15, 2019. The bilateral ceasefire was reportedly discussed. They agreed to meet again early this year, but a meeting date and location are yet to be determined.

The Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee—of which KBC is a member—said in a press conference on December 21, 2019 that it would provide assistance in resettling some 3,000 IDPs from 500 families in IDP camps in Myitkyina, Waingmaw and Mansi townships to their homes early this year.

Concerns about land ownership, landmines, and ongoing armed conflict have largely prevented IDP resettlement in Kachin State thus far.