The Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.) announced a revolution to struggle for self-determination of Kachin in 1961.
Burma achieved independence from British colonialism in 1948. Before the independence of Burma, the British ruled ethnic areas of Kachin, Chin, Shan, and Kareni separately under the frontier areas administration system. Effectively they were separate colonies, much different from Africa where many ethic groups were lumped into a single colony. However, one year before Burma was to be granted independence, the Burmese leader General Aung San traveled north to convince the leaders of the ethnic minority groups to form a unified country with a promise of something similar to the EU today.
In 1947, the Kachin, Chin and Shan signed Panglong agreement with General Aung San, unifying the ethnic minority groups with the Burmese ethnic majority into the new Union of Burma. This agreement promised ethic equality and self-determination under federalism. However, less than five months later, Gen. Aung San was assassinated before that federal system was fully established in detailed law. Much to the surprise and dismay of the ethic groups that signed the Panglong Agreement the government that was formed after the Burma’s independence in 1948 denied the ethnic and state rights promised in the Panglong agreement. The new socialist government and later generations of Burmese governments, comprised almost entirely of ethnic Burmese, completely disregarded the Panglong agreement in building the country we know today as Myanmar. The Ethnic Burmese make up about 60 percent of the population so they could under a straight majority rule system, unlike what was promised, they totally ignore the 40 percent of ethnic groups.
Under the first administration led by prime minister U Nu (1949- 1962), Kachin soldiers served in the army of the Union of Burma. Despite the fact that the U Nu’s administration was ignoring the Panglong agreement, the Kachin were making good faith to maintain the cooperative spirit of the Union and the Panglong Agreement. As the Kachin became increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of self-determination, support for the Union waned until, in 1961, when the finial collapse of the Kachin’s faith in the union of Burma broke when the central government made a law forbidding education in any other language besides Burmese. It would be like to EU announcing that only German could be taught in all schools across the EU. Very soon after the Kachin announced a revolution and formed the Kachin Independence Organization (K.I.O.).
Since the beginning of the revolution, the KIO approached the Burmese government to establish ceasefire talks whenever possible, however each attempted peace-talks fell apart, due to lack of interest and sincerity from the central government. Many years later, the KIO signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government, in 1994, with a promise of a political dialogue to truly solve the roots of the conflict in the near future. They would wait in vain without a sincere dialogue until today.
In 2009, the Burmese military proposed the absorption of the armed wing of the KIO (the Kachin Independence Army), aiming to reconstitute it as a border guard force (BGF). This would have effectively demilitarized the KIO, putting all Kachin soldiers under the central governments command, so they rejected it. The KIO was hoping for more complete integration into the government; the army’s plan instead was am attempt to disenfranchise them. Ultimately, the ceasefire was broken in 2011 with the government offensive, since then the fighting between KIO and the Burmese government has resumed daily.
Today, the KIO is striving for peace as a member group of United Nationalities Federal Council (U.N.F.C.).
For more information about KIO/KIA, please visit the below link of the official website of the KIO/KIA: