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Chronology for Kachins in Burma

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Kachins in Burma, 2004, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
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Date(s) Item
Jan 1990 Lt. Col. Than Tun, spokesman for the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), stated that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy (NLD) was not qualified to run for election in May because of her links to underground organizations. He quoted reports in the Bangkok Post on January 14 and 16, which reportedly stated that the ethnic Kachin Independence Army (this is the military wing of the Kachin Independence Organization) and a group of anti-government students pledged full support for the 44 year-old daughter of Burmese independence leader General Aung San in her bid for a seat in Parliament (UPI, 01/18/90).
Jun 1990 Burma's armed rebels, in a show of support for the NLD, the newly elected opposition party, have promised to end 40 years of civil war once a democratic federal union, fair to minorities, is formed in Burma. "The federal system which has been demanded and fought for by the indigenous nationalities does not mean secessionism", the Alliance of 21 rebel groups said in a statement issued after their meeting. The Alliance asserted that such a union should provide states for each major ethnic group, power-sharing between the central government and the states, a multi-party system, and guaranteed human rights (UPI, 06/17/90). Student leader Moe The Zun, Chairman of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, warned that if the military regime failed to turn over power, both student and rebel groups would intensify their attacks. The student leader said that there are more than 2,000 students fighting with Mon and Karen troops in lower Burma and 1,000 students fighting with the KIA. Brang Seng, leader of the KIO and vice president of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), stated that the Kachins formally recognized the NLD as the legal choice of the people. However, Seng maintained that if the NLD was not allowed to set up a new government, the rebels would consider forming their own interim government.
Jan 1991 Maj-Gen Khin Nyunt, Secretary of the SLORC and Chairman of the Committee for the Development of the Border Region and National Groups, together with other senior military officials, visited some of the Kachin areas. They met with Kachin leaders, headed by U Mahtu Naw of the KIA, and discussed border development programmes. The Kachin leader said he has given up the armed struggle and now accepts the incumbent administration. During the meeting the Kachins requested development assistance for border areas and the nationalities (Rangoon Radio, 1330 gmt 01/16/91, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 01/18/91). The Chairman of the SLORC has restored the legality of several organizations including the Kachin Defense Army (KDA, formerly 4th Brigade of the KIA), led by U Mahtu Naw.
May 1991 Myanmar's Palaung State Liberation Army (PSLA) which is located in the northeastern border area has returned to the legal fold, separating itself from the KIA and the DAB. The Secretary of the SLORC earlier met with Palaung leaders and discussed development issues (Xinhua News Agency, 05/04/91).
Sep 1991 Burma's Foreign Minister has given US Embassy officials in Rangoon information and objects from the recently found wreckage of an American World War II warplane. The Minister also presented the officials with one kg of heroin that Burmese forces claim to have seized from the KIA (AFP quotes Burmese Radio, 09/20/91).
Jan 1992 India has strongly protested to Burma over the influx of about 1,000 refugees across their common border, asserting that Rangoon to take them back. The influx of refugees into India's northeastern Nagaland state follows a crackdown by Burmese troops on militants of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), which has links with the KIA. Indian military intelligence sources argue that the KIA has provided the NSCN rebels with arms and military training (Reuters, 01/28/92).
Mar 1992 An annual report of military operations published on 03/26/92 in the Working Peoples Daily says that 867 rebels and 287 government troops died from March 21, 1991 to March 20, 1992. In the northern military command region in Kachin state where the KIA and the All Burma Students Democratic Front operate, 189 rebels were killed, 13 captured, and 239 others surrendered while 49 troops were killed and 79 wounded (Japan Economic Newswire, 03/26/92).
Apr 1992 Burma's northern military command captured two rebel camps. 23 KIA insurgents and 10 soldiers were killed.
Jul 1992 Kachin rebels have accused the Burmese Army of using chemical weapons against them. It would be the first use of such weapons against the KIA, the rebels said. The accusations were based on testimony given by porters and Army troops arrested during clashes, according to Brang Seng, Chairman of the KIO (BBC quotes The Nation of Bangkok, 07/24/92).
Jan 1 - Oct 31, 1993 Since January 1993, there has been a truce between the KIA and government forces, when negotiations began through the mediation of the Rev. Saboy Jun, Secretary of the Kachin Baptist mission (Japan Economic Newswire, 10/03/93).
Mar 1993 During major and minor battles in the Northern Military Command between March 21, 1992 and March 20, 1993, 127 rebel bodies were recovered, 89 were captured alive, and 181 surrendered. On the other side, 3 officers and 40 soldiers were killed and 52 wounded (BBC 03/26/93 quotes Burma TV 1330 gmt 03/24/93).
Oct 1993 Ruling SLORC leaders met with representatives of the KIO at Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state, Myanmar TV reported on 10/03/93. "It is meaningless to bring in an outside stranger to solve the problem between brothers", KIO Vice Chairman Zaw Mai said at the meeting.
Oct 20 - 31, 1993 During late October, a Kachin peace mission visited the UN headquarters and held a press conference on the negotiations. Japanese Foreign Minister Tsutomu Hata welcomed cease-fire talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachins. The visiting Myanmar Foreign Minister appraised his Japanese counterpart of the decision to allow the KIO to participate in a national convention formed by the junta to draw guidelines for a new constitution. The national convention will aim to establish a multiparty democracy that will still allow the military the "leading role" in governing the state. The formal return of the KIO to the legal fold has been apparently delayed by the sudden illness of leader Brang Seng. He is currently in hospital in Kunming, China. The Karen National Union has described the cease-fire as a "kind of surrender" and a successful example of the junta's divide and rule policies.
Jan 1994 A 34-page statement setting the guidelines for a new constitution was read out to a plenary session of the second national convention (first one held last year). The NLD, the party that won the 1990 elections, is one of the opposition parties that makes up a third of the 668 convention delegates. Contrary to expectations, there was no delegate from the KIA. Official sources said the KIA had been given the convention proceedings, but that no KIA representation should be expected until the formalities of a ceasefire deal were completed (AFP, 01/18/94).
Feb 1994 The KIO formally ended its rebellion by signing a cease-fire agreement with the government. The Kachins are the tenth ethnic group, and the largest so far, to agree to cooperate with the ruling SLORC in order to develop their region.
Jun 1994 Eight persons -- five elected representatives from Kachin state and three NLD organizers -- surrendered to the military regime through the KIO. Hundreds of Burmese dissident students who fled to northern Burma to take up arms alongside the Kachin rebels have been asked by their Kachin hosts to surrender or go elsewhere within a month.
Aug 1994 The leader of the KIO, Brang Seng, died early this month after suffering his second stroke en route from southern China to the group's headquarters in northern Burma. Brang Seng had spent his life seeking an end to the conflicts in Burma, initiating peace negotiations with the government in 1963, 1972, 1980, and finally, in February this year, when he led the group in reaching a cease-fire with the junta.
Nov 1994 A senior Burmese General was quoted as calling for journalists and tourists to be allowed to visit Burma's northern-most Kachin state, which has been out of bounds to most foreigners for decades (Reuters, 11/13/94). Myitkyina has been chosen to host Burma's next annual student sports festival.
Feb 1995 Putao, the northern-most Burmese town bordering both Burma and India, was host to a grand festival on February 12 to celebrate the harmony between the Burmese and minority ethnic races. Military leaders indicate that as the Kachin Independence Organization has returned to the legal fold, it is beginning to cooperate to promote development in Kachin areas. The government has embarked on a project to build infrastructure such as bridges in Kachin State (BBC, 02/02/95).
Apr 1995 Over 8000 acres of poppy plantations have been destroyed in Shan and Kachin States (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 04/08/95).
Jan 1996 A 1994 survey reveals that 93% of several hundred drug addicts in Kachin state are infected with HIV. This is the highest rate that has been reported among drug users world-wide. The World Health Organization estimates that the HIV virus is spreading faster in Asia than in any other world region; there are reported to be 400,000 cases in Burma (Bangkok Post, 01/14/96).
Jun 1996 On June 18th in Rangoon, General Khin Nyunt of the SLORC met with representatives of the Wa group, the Kokang group, Mahtoo Naw's group from the Kachin Brigade-4, Za Khung Ting Ring's group from the Burma Communist Party's 101st Military Region, and groups from three other organizations. All these groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the SLORC. Nyunt reportedly told the groups at the meeting that the SLORC will no longer be able to provide them with assistance -- food, medicines and clothing as the SLORC is facing supply difficulties. He stated that the groups must now seek assistance on their own and that they can contact ASEAN countries but not Western nations (British Broadcasting Corporation 07/29/96).
Aug 1996 Ma Htu Naw, the leader of the Kachin Defense Army (KDA), says that his region has been developing since the organization returned to the legal fold. He stated that KDA members will hand over their weapons to a new government to be elected under a new constitution. Under the KDA's 1991 peace agreement, the rebels were allowed to keep their weapons (Japan Economic Newswire, 08/31/96).
Jan 1997 Representatives of fifteen ethnic groups from across Burma, including the Kachin Independence Union, attended a meeting in Karen-held territory on January 15. The groups signed the Mae Tha Raw Hta agreement which calls for the establishment of a democratic, federal union in Burma. Among those present at the meeting were representatives of the Wa, Karenni, and Mon groups with whom the ruling junta has signed ceasefire agreements over the last few years. The delegates also expressed support for Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and for the need for a tripartite dialogue between the Burmese regime, the NLD, and ethnic groups. The State Law and Order Restoration Council's (SLORC) efforts to draft a new constitution were described as a "sham" (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97)
Feb 1997 Seventeen ethnic rebel factions including the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Karen National Union (KNU) meet in KNU-controlled territory under the banner of the newly-revived National Democratic Front (NDF). The NDF fought against the military in the 1970s and 1980s until the KIA signed a cease-fire agreement with the government in 1994. A spokesman says that several rebel groups are set to renege on their cease-fire deals and resume fighting. Reports indicate that the government has launched a military offensive in Karen areas to stop the groups from reuniting (Inter Press Service, 02/12/97; Reuters, 02/06/97).
Mar 1997 Rebel sources state that the KIA is ready to resume fighting against the SLORC. Like the other 14 or so ethnic groups that have signed cease-fire deals, the Kachins still retain their weapons and control their own areas (Reuters, 03/16/97).
Apr 1997 Some 50% of youths in Kachin state are reported to be drug addicts. No doctors or medicines are available in the region and there is a lack of AIDS awareness (Inter Press Service, 04/24/97).
Aug 1997 Canada and the US have imposed economic sanctions against Burma due to its human rights record (British Broadcasting Corporation, 08/26/97).
Dec 1997 Nineteen NLD members from Kachin state are forced to resign by the SLORC. The NLD members were reportedly subject to various forms of harassment including the denial of schooling and health care to family members (Agence France Presse, 12/14/97).
Apr 1998 Experts from Texas A&M University are in Kachin state to teach residents how to be more productive and prosperous opium-free farmers. The $530,000 project began last year (The Christian Science Monitor, 04/30/98).
May 1998 Reports assert that the Burmese military is selling Kachin, Muslim, and Shan children to businessmen in China to be used for organ transplants (BBC, 05/16/98). Some Kachins are reported to be among 94 anti-government rebels who surrendered last month (Agence France Presse, 05/21/98).
Jul 1998 Refugees, likely members of the Kachin group, who fled Hpakant jade mine assert that hundreds of thousands of people are being used as forced labor. The mine area in Kachin state is reported to be extremely poor and HIV and drug addiction are widespread. The EU and UN contend that it is a disaster zone. Environmental damage and the destruction of property were reported after the SLORC took over the area from the KIA after their cease-fire agreement. Burma refuses access or the provision of aid to the region (Mail on Sunday, 07/05/98).
Sep 1998 The government says that the Kachin Defense Army does not support the NLD's plan to convene a parliament. Reports also indicate that the military is threatening the Kachins and other groups that signed ceasefire deals due to their support for the NLD. The military regime refuses to honor the results of the 1990 elections that were won by the National League for Democracy (BBC, 09/26-30/98).
Nov 1998 The UN Drug Control Program is aiding Kachin farmers to make the transition away from drug cultivation (Agence France Presse, 11/05/98). A few NLD members from Kachin State were reportedly forced to resign their positions (Xinhua News Agency, 11/09/98). Burmese mining authorities and a Chinese company reach an agreement on mineral prospecting and the undertaking of a feasibility study for developing gold and copper deposits in Kachin state (BBC, 12/02/98).
Dec 1998 Burmese authorities state that since March nine drug-producing refineries have been destroyed in Kachin state. This month, 284,000 speed pills and one kilogram of heroin, seized from Kachin dealers near the Thai border, were also destroyed (Bangkok Post, 12/31/98).
Jun 1999 Official reports indicate that from November 1998 to May 1999 authorities destroyed a total of 3979 hectares of poppy fields in Shan and Kachin states and in Mandalay division. Poppy cultivation in Burma encompasses some 61,236 hectares, producing an annual opium crop of 665.28 tons which can be refined into 66.52 tons of heroin (Xinhua News Agency, 06/29/99).

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