By BA KAUNG
THE phrase “independence for Kachin State” is popular these days among residents of Laiza, the headquarters of the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA), whose ongoing clashes with government troops continued until Monday, when artillery fire from the Burmese army side reportedly fell on Chinese territory.
Although KIA leaders do not use this phrase and only call for more political rights from the central government, they are now hinting at the inevitability of a major all-out war with the Burmese army, which could eventually force them to separate from Burma, if the Burmese government does not make any move to respond to the KIA's calls for autonomy, which it has been fighting for since 1963.
“We want a true federal state, but if the government uses force to deal with us, we will be unavoidably pushed behind the lines of 1948,” said Brig-Gen Gun Maw, the KIA deputy military chief who is playing the principal role in current discussions with the Burmese government aimed at ending the armed clashes between the two sides
By referring to 1948—the year Burma regained its independence from Britain—he was suggesting that the country could once again be divided into two parts: central Burma, or Burma proper, and the mountainous regions predominantly populated by ethnic minorities such as the Kachin and the Shan, which were administered separately under the British. -- Full story at The Irrawaddy