Kachin Independence Army

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Flag of the Kachin Independence Army.

The Kachin Independence Army (Kachin: ShangLawt Hpyen, Burmese: ကချင် လွတ်မြောက်ရေး တပ်မတော်; abbreviated KIA) is the military army of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), a political group composed of ethnic Kachins in northern Burma (Myanmar). The Kachins are a coalition of six tribes whose homeland encompasses territory in Yunnan, China and Northeast India, in addition to Kachin State in Burma. In May 2012, the rebel group had approximately 8,000 troops.[1]

The KIA is fully funded by the KIO, which raises revenue through taxes (in their area) and trade in jade, timber and gold. Although well equipped for jungle warfare, the KIA does not have much modern weaponry.[citation needed] Their rifles are a mixture of AK-47s, home-made rifles such as a KA-07, and some artillery. KIA headquarters are located outside the town of Laiza, in southern Kachin state near the Chinese border.[2]


The KIA was formed on February 5, 1961 in response to a military coup in Burma led by General Ne Win, who attempted to consolidate Burmese control over regions on the periphery of the state which were home to various ethnic groups. From 1961 through 1994, the KIA fought a grueling and inconclusive war against the Burmese junta. The KIA initially fought for independence, but now seek autonomy within a federal union of Burma.[citation needed]

The 1994 ceasefire agreement between the KIA and the Burmese junta froze the conflict in place.[citation needed] The KIA neither disarmed nor surrendered and continues to recruit, train and mobilize soldiers.[2] Prior to the ceasefire, the KIA was predominantly a guerrilla force, but peace provided the breathing room to establish a military academy and to design officer training programs.[3]

Although the ceasefire between the government and the KIA has endured since 1994,[4] in 2009 many Kachins expected a renewed outbreak in conjunction with elections scheduled for 2010. The Military junta that runs Burma demanded that all ethnic armies disarm before the elections, because the new constitution requires only one army in Burma. According to KIA chief of staff Gen. Gam Shawng Gunhtang, the demands to disarm were "not acceptable", because he disarming KIA does not guarantee peace.[5] In February 2010 Shawng said "I can't say if there will be war for sure, but the government wants us to become a border guard force for them by the end of the month", and "We will not do that, or disarm, until they have given us a place in a federal union and ethnic rights as was agreed in Panglong Agreement in 1947".[2]

In October 2010 KIA commanders stated that they have "10,000 regular troops and 10,000 reservists".[4] In 2009 Thomas Fuller of the New York Times estimated their numbers at about 4,000 active soldiers.[5] The soldiers are divided into five brigades, plus one mobile brigade. Most are stationed in bases close to the Chinese border, in strips of territory held by the KIO.[5] One brigade is stationed in northern Shan state, protecting a large Kachin population.[citation needed]

Origins: 1948 - 1959[edit]

Naw Seng was a Kachin in 1949 held the rank of captain from No. (1) Kachin battalion He went underground during the riot between Kayin-Bama and joined KNDO. He was active in northern Shan State as a KNDO force in1950. At that time Zaw Seng was attending the eighth standard at the government high school in Lasho. He made contact with Naw Seng and followed him underground. Naw Seng took refuge in China in 1951 while Zaw Seng remained in the movement of KNDO in Than-daung and Baw-ga-li.

In 1959, Gilitlin, (Kachin name: Zaw Bawk), assigned as a counselor, was sent to organize the inhabitants to carry out underground operations in the area of northern Shan State. Zaw Seng, and Gilitlin took shelter in Nant Un village, Ho Kone district, where Gilitlin's mother served as a teacher and began his mission. Zaw Tu, Zaw Seng’s younger brother, who was a university student, ran away from the university and joined with Zaw Seng underground.

Lance Corporal Lamung Tu Jai, who was studying in Theinni after being dismissed from No.(4) Kachin battalion, and Lama La Ring, who returned to Kutkai after leaving the university, made contact with Zaw Seng and formed Kachin Independence Organization in 1960.

In the KIO Zaw Seng took charge as the head of the unit, Zaw Tu as the deputy head and Lama La Ring as the secretary. While being the time of attacking to take position among politicians, they provided KIO with ammunitions to form it as a private army resulted in an armed group with the strength of 27 members.

Insurgency: 1960-1962[edit]

KIO started armed operations with a bank raid on February 5, 1960. When the insurgents started armed attacks, Kachin youths organized by Zaw Saing and Zaw Tu went underground. With a force of 100, KIA and Kachin Independence Council (KIC) were formed in Lwe Tauk, Theindi on February 5, 1961. Zaw Saing became chief-commander and Gyilitlin became major-commander.

A base camp was built about 10 miles east of Sin Li village near Kuk Khine, Northern Shan State, labeled No. 1. A basic military course was run on March 16, 1961.

No. 1 battlion was established in Monbar, Bammaw and No. 2 in Mon Si and Mon Htan by La Mar La Rein with a force of 300 people.

In addition, Villagers’ Defence Forces equipped with percussion lock firearms were ordered to disrupt the Tatmadaw forces.

Buddhism was prescribed as the State’s religion by the meeting of two parliaments on on August 26, 1961. Nevertheless the right to practice other faiths was protected according to No. 17 Act, 1962, (Law of Constitution, third amendment). However, non-Buddhist believed that they had now lost this right and protested. This drove KIO's growth beyond its then 27 members.

Separately, demonstrations erupted against the announcement of the inclusion of Phimaw, Gawlan and Kanphan regions into China in the border treaty of China-Burma.

These changes along with the Federal Policy from Shan Monarchy, gave KIO an opportunity to attack. They declared their aim of establishing an Independent Kachin Republic.

Peace talks: 1963[edit]

Local peace talks took place in Yangon and the regions. For example, the meeting with Rakine communist party of Kway Zan Shwee was held in Ngapali.

By early 1963 KIA had formed one Brigade and six battalions and expanded its force to over 1,000. Almost 300 were in the areas of Lasho - Kut khine and about 380 in Bammaw - Myit Kyi Nar in 1962. It increased after it occupied Bam Maw - Sein Lone road and Bam Maw- Man Wane road through expansion to the west bank of the Irrawaddy and northeastern Myit Kyi Nar and Hu Kaung valley.

On announcing the offer of local peace by the revolution council on June 11, 1963, KIA arrived at Bam Maw by the arrangement of the revolution council. Zaw Dan, the KIA representative, arrived at Mandalay from Bam Maw on August 31, 1963. The divisional authorities met with him again on behalf of the revolution council on September 1, 1963, after tentative talk with Brigade officer, No.7 Brigade.

During talks, Zaw Dan, with his members, demanded to:

  • give rights to autonomy and freedom to ethnic groups
  • establish private sovereignty, the main aim of the revolution
  • establish a treaty of friendship after the secession based on
    • mutual agreement to restore territory and sovereignty
    • peace
    • non-intervention in local affairs
    • reciprocity
    • co-existence

The demands for independence were denied. Zaw Tu, one of KIA's top leaders occupied almost all of villages in Kar Mie, Bam Maw during the talks. After the talks failed, KIA collected men, weapons and ammunition. The group numbered up to 20,000 by the end of 1963.

Evolution: 1964-1965[edit]

KIA could have formed one brigade and six battalions before the peace talks fielding 1000 insurgents. During the talks the representative group led by Zaw Dan gathered people and obtained money by extortion. Then, Zaw Tu crossed the Ayeyarwaddy and invaded Ka Mine, a site where gem could be explored. Almost all villages in Ka Mine were under the influence of KIA. The strength of KIA developed up to over 20,000 by the end of 1963 through collecting man, weapon and ammunitions.

In 1964, KIA formed Brigade (2). Zaw Sai commanded Brigade (1) consisted of Battalion (1), (2) and (5). Brigade (1) based on Mon Bar Par village, Mansi township (SO-4888). Brigade 2 was commanded by Zaw Tu and it based in Magibon (S-4404). Then Battalion 7 was formed with 800 insurgents

and Zaw Tu commanded it. Battalion 7 was formed based on VDF.

Zaw Tu increased the strength of Brigade 2 up to 1400 personnel and it operated in Putao, Chibwe, Lawkhaung, Myitkyina, Bamaw and Kokant. The top leaders of KIA, Zaw Sai, Zaw Dan and Zaw Tu, were popular as Three Zaws in November 1964.

Tatmadaw carried out many successful operations against the KIA in December 1964, because KIA lost strength in Kachin state and northern Shan state.Operations included the Gan Gaw, Aung Myay, Kaung Ya Bwam and Kha Yang operations.

KIA was defeated by the operations of Myanmar Tatmadaw in 1964 and December to September 1965. These operations resulted in KIA losses of 696 wounded and 377 dead. 2223 KIA surrendered and 1064 personnel were arrested by the Myanmar Tatmadaw.

KIA was defeated everywhere. Chief Zaw Hsaing went to Thailand to look for help and established a base for drug and jade trade at the border area of Htaan Woo (LU-0505). Glitlin was Zaw Hsaing's advisor. Zaw Hsaing also tried to seek the assistance from SEATO by going to Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Fawmoser in December 1965.

Defeat: 1965-1970[edit]

Foreign minister Mabransaing wentt to the Chaw Kan valley and discussed KIA's need for assistance India in 1966. However this was not successful.

In early 1966, Tatmadaw pulled some of its forces from Kachin State to establish the 77 Brigade and attack the Communist Party of Burma (CPB). This gave KIA a chance to regroup.

In 1967 July, Brigade 2 commander Mabransain and his fellows went to a neighbouring country[clarification needed] and attended military and political courses and sought weapons. They acquired 42 rifles, 36 bombs and 2 boxes of bullets, returning in September.

After that, Brigade 2 commander Zaw Tu and his parties left for foreign countries in October 1967. He was accompanied by secretary Pon Shwe Zaw Hsaing and Bransaing and 425 men. This party sought help in weapons and political and military training.

Zaw Tu and PCB agreed to fight the Government. Zaw Tu and his party acquired 800 rifles, 170,000 bullets and other equipment.

In January 1968 Zaw Tu and his group returned with automatic weapons. They supplied the weapons to Mai Ron Con Jar and Con Sar Bout Naws’ fighting groups.

Zaw Tu organized local people by propagating the Communist doctrine of Maw Si Tone. However, the people did not accept that ideology, nor did KIA members. Maru, Lisue and Lachate minorities did not accept the policy of appointing only Jean Faw people as leaders. Followers were not satisfied with the governance of Zaw Hsaing, Zaw Dan and Zaw Tu.

In 1968 March, Zelwan (Maru) and Sakhon Teinyein (Lachate) seceded from KIA and and their group of about 120 went to a neighboring country [clarification needed] to cooperate with PCB. Based on that cooperation, CPB could base itself in Kachin State, Chee Bwe, Law Khaung and Sawlt Law beginning in 1968.

Conflict with CPB: 1971 to 1972[edit]

KIA had many conflicts with CPB. In 1969, Zaw Dan and his partisans fought the Kachin (4). KIA from Northern Shan state negotiated with PCFB Regiments 202 and 303. In 1970 KIA Brigade 2, Regiments 5 and 6 were controlled by Zaw Tu. They smuggled jade to Thailand from Kar Mine and Pha Kant to finance weapons purchases. China also provided weapons and trained the Phiso Naga from India.[clarification needed] Zaw Dan provided weapons and trained the Rakhine insurgents. He also negotiated with Thailand and opened a headquarters in Thanwoo.

In 1972, KIA fielded 2950 insurgents. KIA in Thanwoo was led by Zaw Hsaing. Brigade 1 was in Koot Khaing, Lashio District and Bamaw, led by Zaw Dan. Brigade 2 was in Pha Kant and Myit Kyee Na, led by Zaw Tu. They tried to increase the trade of jade and drag.[clarification needed]

In Brigade 1, Lwan Daunt led Battalion 2, Zaw Bon led Battalion 8 and Daung Khaung led Battalion 9. They were responsible for Lashio district. Dwa Yaung led Battalion 1 and Gawruledwa led Battalion 5. They were responsible for Bamaw district.

In Brigade 2, Zaw Tu led 1469 insurgents. Zaw Baut led Battalion 3, Zote Diang led Battalion 4, Lamarlarein led Battalion 6, Zaw Baut led Battalion 5, Madinkeyyaw led Battalion 10, Kadawzawsai led Battalion 11. They were responsible for Myitkyina district and the western part of Ayeyarwaddy.

Communism and foreign assistance[edit]

Beginning in 1950, some CPB members went abroad for political and military training. In 1967 July, the leader Mayanbaransai went abroad with 34 others. KIA accepted Communism and foreign nations agreed to provide political and military assistance. After that, KIA's 425 insurgents led by Zaw Tu, Zaw Dan, Lamontujai, Mayanbayansai, Ponshwe Zawsai went abroad from November 4, 1967 to January 27, 1968 and held discussions with Ba Thein Tin and Naw Sai. From that time on KIA got the political and military assistance from abroad and conducted more military operations.

At the end of 1976, KIA established 9 Regiments with 1750 personnel in Kachin State and 500 in Northern Shan State. They got ammunition from Zaw Sai in Thanwoo. In 1968, They fought in the Myitkyina area and occupied the camp of Kowapan (NY- 2044 ), Duyitgar (NY- 0466), Tingarukaung (NY-8504). Also in 1968 they established Regiment 10, led by Zaw Diang.

Although Zaw Tu accepted communism, his subordinates and the public disliked Communism. KIA's original organization was based on racial and religious beliefs, rather than an ideology such as Communism. Although KIA and CPB accepted Communism, in 1968 January, CPB leader Naw Sai entered Monekoe (S-2499) as parallel in economically.[clarification needed] In 1968 March, from KIA Regiment 4 Group 1 leader Maru Zay Lwan and, Group 5 leader Zakonteinyein and 120 followers seceded from KIA and left the country. Zay Lwan and Zakonteinyein groups cooperated with CPB becoming CPB Regiment 10, upsetting KIA.

CPB asked Kachin Captain Naw Sai to lead KIA and Kachin native in organizing. In April 1968 a meeting at KIA Brigade 2 headquarters designated Naw Sai's forces as the first enemy and KIA started fighting them in June. Zaw Tu rejected Communism. Although KIA was fighting CPB, they accepted ammunition and assistance from outside the country. In 1969, they sent Indian Fiso Narga insurgents abroad for training. After that they got ammunition through Narga from overseas. They recruited 13 years old boys and girls forcefully.

Battalions 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9 were grouped under KIA Brigade 1, while Battalions 3, 4, 6 and 7 were grouped under Brigade 2. KIA avoided Tatmadaw and fought CPB. They contacted the Tatmadaw and tried to build mutual understanding.

Zay Lwan and Sakhonteinyein seceded from KIA after returning from foreign training. They formed Bakapa Battalion 101. Zay Lwan and 200 insurgents entered Khantan valley road (SD-9510), on May 19, 1969 and Kanpaiktee (SD-9517) on May 20. On May 27 Sakhonteinyein and 200 insurgents attacked Tanlon (NZ-3969) police station. They fought KIA in Chiphwe, Lawkhaung, Sawlaw region in eastern Maykha. Zaw Diang made an agreement with Tatmadaw in Kutkhaing region. In 1969 in the first week of February, they ambushed Kachin (4) convoy. They also agreed to a ceasefire with CPB Brigades 202 and 303.

In 1969, July KIO committee meeting created a master political plan for Wanpaung country Independent group. The plan covered political beliefs and objectives, defined the enemy and described the basics of Wanpaung development, attitude and foreign relations.

Zaw Tu's group recruited personnel from basic areas and trained them as Village Defence Forces (VDF), Local Gorilla Forces (LGF) or commando forces. They forced the village heads to attend the training courses. Although Mayanbaransai went abroad and reported the hostility towards CPB, foreign authority forced to enter only to CPB.[clarification needed] In 1970, they agreed to accept 220 KIA and 150 Bakapa from Kathar district for training.

In May 1970, KIA provided weapons and ammunition to Rakhaing youth led by Tun Shwe Maung. They attempted to get Kachin, Naga, Mizo and Rakhine insurgents to cooperate. They also requested East Pakistan to provide military assistance.

CPB and KIA then agreed on a ceasefire. CPB entered Mone Paw to Southern KIA secretly, settting off renewed fighting800. As KIA depended upon the aid of foreign CPB, they could not involve PCB. The failure of the ceasefire led KIA to attempt an agreement with Tatmadaw. At that time, KIA recognised the Government as the common enemy, because La Mohne Too Jaih and CPB leaders negotiated in Mone Paw and got some agreement. KIA could neither give up foreign support nor accept CPB, forcing them to switch between Tatmataw and CPB.

In December 1971, KIA grouped Battalion 11 into four columns and tried to fight the Tatmadaw. Battalions 5, 6 and 12 became the "leopard column" in western Ayeyarwaddy river, led by Zaw Tu. Battalions 1, 2, 8 and 9 were the "elephant column" that was led by Zaw Dan in Kwutkhaing. In eastern Ayeyarwaddy, "lion column" grouped Battalions 3 and 10, led by Khanhtwe. At Putao region "rhinoceros column" combined Battalion 4 and 7, led by Zawein. Although CPB and KIA made an agreement, they fought again in 1972. When CPB penetrated KIA regions, KIA sent a delegation to the Tatmadaw. They often stopped fighting and conferred in northern Shan State. They communicated with the Tatmadaw to get help through Thailand. Working with the Tatmadaw provided a temporary escape from the confrontation with CPB.

To fight with the Tatmadaw, they asked for help with arms, ammunition and medical supplies. On June 10 1972, the Army stopped fighting to organize the youths and collect unpaid tribute. Using the excuse of stopping CPB, they conducted military operations. They attempted to recruit Palaung Battalion 2 and put it under Zaw Dan.

A KIA central committee meeting was held in Samarbon (SD-6076). On 29 August 1972, they held another central committee meeting in Hukaung Valley. The Tatmadaw rejected an agreement on 3 October 1972. On 27 October, the central committee meeting ended. One outcome was to work with four Brigades instead of the original two.

Brigade 1 was commanded by Too Jaing in northern Kachin State. Brigade 2 was commanded by Zaw Tu in western Kachin State. Brigade 3 was commanded by Zaw Mai in eastern Kachin State. Brigade 4 was commanded by Zaw Dan in southern Kachin State.

The commander-in-chief was Zaw Sai and vice-commander-in-chief was Zaw Tu. They formed the Kachin Freedom Council (KIC). KIC served as the central committee and included:

Central Committee
Rank Name Position
Brigadier Zaw Too Chairman
Salangkabar Pon Shwe Zaw Sai Secretary
Colonel Too Jaing Co-secretary
Colonel Zaw Dan Member
Salangkabar MayanBayang Sai Member
Lieutenant-colonel Lamar Larain Member
Salangkabar Zaw Aung Member
Lieutenant-colonel Zaw Mai Member
Major MayanBayang Taung Member
Major Hkun Cho Member
Major Zaw Bon Economic-in charge
Major Zaw Phan

Three organizations operate under the Kachin Freedom Council (KIA), Kachin Independent Army (Defence), Administrative Group and Kachin Independent Organization (KIO).

Kachin Freedom general staff
Rank Name Title
Maj General Zaw Sai Chairman
Brigadier Zaw Tu Vice-chairman (Brigade-2)
Colonel Too Jaing Secretary (Brigade-1)
Colonel Zaw Dan Member (Brigade-4)
Lieutenant-Colonel Lamar Larain Associate-Secretary Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel Zaw Mai MemberBrigade-3)
Major Bayang Taung Member

KIA was systematically organized as section, platoon, company, battalion and brigade. Battalions 4, 7 and 10 went under Brigade 1, Battalions 5, 6 and 11 went under Brigade 2, Battalions 1 and 3 went under Brigade 3 and Battalions 2, 8 and 9 went under Brigade 4. Brigade commanders headed Division Administration, battalion commanders headed District Administration, group leaders headed Township Administration and small group leaders headed Administrative Units. According to the administration, divisions were divided and took responsibility.

KIO leadership
Rank Name Title
Brigadier Zaw Tu Chairman(Brigade-2)
Colonel Too Jaing Vice-Chairman(Brigade-1)
Salankabar Pon Shwe Zaw Sai Secretary
Colonel Zaw Dan Associate-Secretary
Lieutenant-Colonel Lamar Larain Member
Lieutenant-Colonel Zaw Mai Member
Colonel Mayan Bayaung Taung Member
Salankabar Mayan Bayaung Sai Member

Kachin insurgents were systematically organized as fighting and administrative forces. Leadership remained under the influence of the Zaw brothers, Sai, Tu and Dan. Zaw Sai was the first leader of Kachin insurgents to live only in Thailand. The second leader, Zaw Tu, controlled and commanded KIA who lived in the State. Front Line Military Headquarter (FGHQ) was based in Magyi Bon Region, Kaut Lun village and Military Headquarters was situated in NY 6173.

Although three organizations, KIA fighting Force, Administrative Group and Organization Group were controlled by KIC. The fighting Force was popular. Therefore, all Kachin insurgents were generally called "KIA”.

CPB intended to coopt insurgents into their party after exploiting KIA as a subordinate organization. CPB appointed Naw Sai as military leader. Because of Naw Sai’s position favoring fighting with KIA, CPB was not satisfied with him. They secretly arrested and killed Naw Sai and a Wa national leader on 8 March 1972 and falsely claimed that Naw Sai died by falling into a gully. When KIA learned how Naw Sai was killed, the situation became worse and fighting started.

KIA communicated with neighbouring countries and their insurgent groups. They tried to organize small insurgent groups. They acted as a buffer between Phizo Naga, Mizo insurgents and foreign countries. They sent Phizo Naga to foreign countries via Myanmar. In return they got arms and ammunition.

They sent a Mizo insurgent group abroad in March, 1973. They signed a contract with local Naga insurgents on 2 June 1973 that established terms for supplying military training and arms by KIA and the organization of the Naga region according to tradition. KIA trained 100 Naga insurgents at the India-Myanmar border, south-west of NS 4257 Khar Shay.

KIA headquarters were led by Zaw Sai in Thanwoo in Thailand. So KIA had to go Thailand via Shan State. KIA had to communicate with Shan insurgents.

In Shan State, Shan insurgent groups included Pa Laung and Pao. SURA's Moe Hein group placed their headquarters in Pain Lon.[clarification needed] Moe Hein group often fought SSA, another Shan insurgent group. KIA relied on SURA for safe passage in travelling to the border and to fight against (or with) Tatmadaw.

Part of FNF, the Pa Laung National league led by Kham Taung organized Shwe Pa Laung and Ngwe Pa Laung nationals in Mone Wee, Nant San and Mong Ngue regions. Pa Laung insurgents fell under the leadership of Zaw Dan in 1972. KIA cooperated with Pa Laung nationals to face with CPB and SSA.

SSA made a settlement in Thailand and built a movement in Lwe Khay in Shan State (North). SSA headquarters was led by Chairman Khun Kyar Nu and secretary Set Say Wai. In Lwe Khay region, it was led by Vice-chairman Ohn Paung Pon Taing and Chief-of-Staff Sai Hla Aung. In March 1973, they removed Maha Daewi Nann Hein Kham from the post of president. On 24 May 1973, SSA joined with Koe Kant insurgent groups Law Sit Han, Maha Sann from Bain Nginn group and with Lai U from Man Man Sai group in Man Pa Laung Lwe Khay region.

Three representatives led by Sa Kaw Lae Taw from KNU arrived at the headquarters of SSPP in Man Shee, Man Naung region in July, 1973 and asked for assistance for travelling to CPB headquarters in Pan Sann. SSPP planned to cooperate with CBP. They chose a representative to follow Sa Kaw Lae Taw. Joint Secretary Say Htin, 200 members and 3 representatives arrived at Pan Sann in October, 1973. On 18 November 1973, they agreed on military cooperation. They took arms and ammunition and left Pan Sann on 27 November and arrived in Mong Bon region on 17 April 1974.

This agreement led KIA to fight SSA. In 1974, KIA battled SSA in Kyauk Mae, Nan Ma Tu region. But in April 1974, they reached agreement on the area.

After the Thai government broke up Koe Kant insurgent group, 20 remnants took refuge at the Thai border, where they joined KIA.

Kyan Suu Shin led 300 insurgents from Lwe Maw group (Khun Sar group) to work with KIA Battalion 8. KIA and Lwe Maw group agreed to assist each other.

Chinese Military Divisions 3 and 5 settled in Northern Thailand and often operated in Burma. They were fought by KIA and CBP. So they could operate in Lwe Say, Man Palaung, Man Kyaung, Sut Yet and Wun Sinn regions, KIA cooperated with Kuminton.

They cooperated with SURA (Moe Hein), Koe Kant insurgents (Law Sit Han), Lwe Maw insurgents (Khun Sar) and Pa Laung without cooperation with SSA who supported CBP. In the western region KIA supported local, Naga and Rakhine insurgents.

Naga National Council (NNC)[edit]

In-order to avoid arrest, Phizo Naga took refuge in the Naga mountain region in Khann Tee Division in 1963. KIA assisted Phizo Naga to flee through Kachin territory.

The Naga insurgency traces to the founding of the Naga Club, in Kohima in 1918. They submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission to exclude the Nagas from any constitutional framework of India. With the coming of Angami Zapu Phizo, popularly called as Phizo, the Naga Movement gained momentum in the late 1940s.

Under Phizo's leadership NNC declared the Independence of Nagaland on 14 August 1947. However, Phizo was arrested in 1948 by the Indian Government on charges of rebellion. On his release, Phizo was made NNC President in 1950.

In 1953, a meeting was organized between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Burmese Prime Minister U Nu, to establish formal borders between India and Burma. Separatist leaders described the meeting as the process of dividing Naga territory between the two countries. Nehru and U Nu visited Naga areas in both countries. On 30 March 1953, when they visited Kohima, the district deputy commissioner prevented the NNC delegation from meeting Nehru, apparently without Nehru's knowledge. Consequently, NNC boycotted Nehru's public meeting.

Nagas inhabit the states of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in the present North-Eastern State of India and in Burma's Sagaing Division and Kachin State. In Burma, Naga territory is marked by Kabo valley in the south bordering Chin state, Kachin on the north and the Burmese on the east. The townships are: Homalin, Lahe with Tanbakwe sub-township, Layshi with Mowailut sub-township and Somra sub-township, Khamti, Khanpat, Namyun with Pangsau sub-township, Tamu of Sagaing Division and Tanai of Kachin state

Assassination of KIA leaders[edit]

Following the unsuccessful discussions with Tatmadaw in October, 1972. But, because of their dishonesty, their discussion was not successful and fighting continued. Zaw Tu went to Thai in December 1973 and La Mon Hu Gyaing took his place. When KIA faced attacks by CPB and Tatmadaw in 1973 and 1974, neither Zaw Sai nor Zaw Tu returned and KIA succumbed.

CPB Regiment 101 was penetrating into Sa-Done in East May-Kha. On 1 March 1975, at a battle between KIA and CPB, Zaw Dan was killed in action. CPB Regiment 202 attacked KIA Combat Team 4's area and CPB Regiment 2 penetrated KIA Regiment 2's area in East Kut-Khaing through Man-Yon-Maw. Zaw Mai succeeded Zaw Dan and stopped CPB in Nant-Hai and Nant-Saung-Kye while Zaw Sai and Zaw Tu were in Thailand. On 2 February 1975, KIA leader Pon-Shwe Zaw Sai and his team left for Thailand. Zaw Sai, Zaw Tu and Pon-Shwe Zaw Sai misused the money from trading opium and jade.

Zaw Sai's leadership became powerless because he was out of direct contact with KIA for about 10 years. Zaw Tu faced disapproval of his subordinates. After he had prohibited marriage for his follower, he married Law-Khaing-Lu-On in 1966 and second wife Lu-Sai in 1973. The leaders' personal affairs cost them the respect of their subordinates.

Former KIA Regiment 11, commanding officer Sai Tu executed Zaw Sai, Zaw Tu and Pon-shwe Zaw Sai in Htan-Poe, at the Thai Border Camp, on 10 August 1975. KIA headquarter explained to District and Division Committees that the leaders were executed because they manipulated the organization. Gaw-Lu-La-Dwe and other leaders claimed that Sai Tu was a spy and that he killed the leaders intentionally. Thai police arrested Sai Tu on 29 September. Zaw Lmai sent major Khun Cho, commanding Officer of Regiment 8, to Thailand to investigate. Although it was clear that Sai Tu killed the leaders, no reasons were given.

Zaw Mai, leading combat team 4, confronted CPB ten times since 1 November 1975 at heavy cost to both sides. Zaw Mai took Kyaung-Nat operation, focused on CPB Regiment 202 on 26 March 1975. La-Mon-Tu-Gyaing, Chief of Combat team 1 became KIA Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Combat Team 4, while Zaw Mai became Deputy Commander-in-Chief.

Ma-Ran-baran-Sai’s leftist group was stronger after the executions. This created a chance to cooperate with CPB. KIA sited some operations in Thailand, including economic affairs, trading and acquiring. In 1976, Ma-Ran-Baran-Sai became the KIA leader and decided to ally with CPB.


In 2011 General Sumlut Gun Maw confirmed the renewal of fighting.[6][7] One reason for ending the ceasefire was the creation of the Myitsone Dam, which requires the submergence of dozens of villages in Kachin state.[8]

The 2011–2012 Kachin Conflict in 2011 displaced between 35,000 and 75,000 people and killed hundreds.[9]


New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK) is a group that split from KIA. It is led by Zahkung Ting Ying and affiliated with the Burma Communist Party in 1968, before it formally became NDAK December 1989.[10]

Forcible recruitment[edit]

Thousands of protesters gathered in Myitkyina on 20 December 2013 to demonstrate against the forcible recruitment of ethnic Shan people into the KIA. The KIA has allegedly recruited about 100 Taileng insurgents from Mansi Township in late 2013.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AP, 4 May 2012, Myanmar state media report battles between government troops, Kachin rebels killed 31
  2. ^ a b c Leithead 2010.
  3. ^ Jackson, Joe (19 April 2012). "On the Front Lines with the Kachin Independence Army". Time. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b BBC staff 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Fuller 2009.
  6. ^ Operation Victory Journey
  7. ^ Renewed fighting in Kachin state
  8. ^ Myitsonedam
  9. ^ "Security Risks for Kachin IDPS and Refugees". Free Burma Rangers. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Irrawaddy Magazine | ARCHIVES | 10202". Irrawaddy.org. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  11. ^ Shan civilians accuse Kachin rebels of human rights abuses | DVB Multimedia Group
  12. ^ Kachin Rebels Accused of Forced Recruitment in Myanmar | The Irrawaddy Magazine


Further reading[edit]

  • Bertil, Lintner (2002), The Kachin: Lords of Burma's Northern Frontier, Art Media Resources, ISBN 1-876437-05-7 
  • Tucker, Shelby (2001), Among Insurgents: Walking Through Burma (New ed.), Flamingo;, ISBN 0-00-712705-7