‘They Are Fighting Us Like a Foreign Invasion'
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‘They Are Fighting Us Like a Foreign Invasion'

By THE IRRAWADDY Friday, December 2, 2011


General Gun Maw, 46, is the Kachin Independence Army’s (KIA) vice chief of staff and heads the Foreign Affairs Department of the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). He was interviewed by Edith Mirante, of Project Maje, in the besieged town of Laiza on November 21, a week before the KIO met with Burmese government representatives in China.

Question: Because it has been 6 months of fighting, what are the challenges?

Answer: The conflict started June 9th and now it’s been almost 6 months. Actually we wanted to solve the problem by political means, but this political way of resolution is not open to us, that’s why we are still holding the defensive warfare. The time of fighting is increasing from month to month. Within October, one month, there were about 180 of these clashes. Likewise in November, over 100 of these fightings. During these battles, the government are using infantry divisions. Usually these infantry divisions are used to defend against foreign invasion. So that means they are fighting us like a foreign invasion.

Q: Would you characterize this as defensive warfare, or guerrilla, mobile?

A: We use a combination of defensive line and mobile guerrilla warfare. We use tactics depending on the situation or the geography or the terrain. For the whole country, for the whole area, our overall strategy is the defensive situation, but later we use some guerrilla tactics.

Q: Up to now the fighting has been in the east. Is there any consideration of pushing the conflict further out?

A: The Burmese government also cannot spread their troops into other areas, they have to concentrate on this area. And also on the other hand, since the beginning of the conflict, they have lost their face in front of the Chinese authorities. They want to reclaim it, so they want to concentrate there.

Q: Is the [China] pipeline project considered an intrusion in KIA territory?

A: We have discussed about this pipeline project but we don’t make any decision about that. Because it is not yet active in our area. And also even though it crosses in our area it is just a very short term crossing. But we’re still watching about this, the progress of it, and we are discussing about this.

Q: Your neighbors the Wa—do you consider them neutral?

A: Their interest, their destination is different than us. Because they transformed from communist to now they are a national [ethnic] organization. Actually they are a friendly organization, they are not likely to fight against us.

Q: What would be your message to the outside world?

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A: The first thing is that in order to solve the problem in Burma we have to go the parallel approach—democratizing and ethnic issues. If the ethnic issues are omitted in this process and democratizing is prioritized this time, the government of Burma can become stronger, financially and politically. On the other hand, this government will continue to suppress the ethnic people, for example it’s like Suharto’s government in Indonesia.

Their final intention for ethnic peoples is disarmament. If the disarmament happens, for them it means peace, the solution. But we cannot trust just disarmament, that’s why we are always pushing them to have the political dialogue.

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Thein Win Wrote:
The Citizens are the Enemy of Burmese Military.

Thawng Wrote:
Its hard to believe the Junta will bring the genuine democracy in Burma since they have been trying to get rid of their own people in their own land. How ridiculous they are! Its been a decade, we, ethnic minority group have been chasing the mirage as water leading us disaster, poverty and discrimination. Enough is enough!

DuwaInBlood Wrote:
We don't want peace anymore. 17 years of cease fire doesn't bring Kachins nowhere except drug addicts, empty forests and deserted, toxins-filled rivers in Kachin land. It wasn't a solution for us. We are being starving and poor while we are living on our own resourceful soil!! So we are going for total freedom with the rights to decide our futures. We simply are doing it in GOD we trust, and for our next generations.

Ne Myo Win Wrote:
Woe to the bloody cruel Junta!

chindits Wrote:
yes... he is absolutely right. disarmament means peace for them. but Disarmament without achieving any items and rights outlined in Panlong agreement will result in ethnic lost. It just means surrender to Military Government and agree to live whatever they outlined in their fake constitution.

Uraw Gam Wrote:
KIO/KIA is the Government of Kachin State and the Kachin Sub State of Northern Shan State which was formally demarcated by the First Government of Myanmar. Try to disrespect those historical agreements and ignoring of the 18 points the Kachins proposed in the National Assembly are the main causes of the arm resistance. Ceasefire is vested totally with the Government as Kachins are not the one shooting, they are just defending their native land. Stop the Military Operation in Kachin Area.

Ohn Wrote:
It is wonderful to see that even Irrawaddy kindly takes time out to put on one and the only important issue in Burma rather than
idiotic bs about how wonderful Thein Sein is, how reforming are the "moderates" who only exist in their warped imagination and, because millions of people put false hope on and is famous, how everything Aung San Suu Kyi says is so right.The proof being the Americans listen to her. Great!

But until people in Burma as a whole understand that if one is in trouble, all are in trouble, no one will be free.

People in Rangoon seem dead set on getting in with the wheelers and dealers and sell the country to buy big roads and buildings and electricity and broadband iPads like in Singapore/ Bangkok which in their pathetic mind is worth their mothers. Greed will destroy all.

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