Armed Conflicts between the Kachin Independence Organization and Myanmar Army: A Conflict Analysis

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Yaw Htung

Abstract

The paper examines the armed conflicts between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Burmese army since 1961 after ten years of Burma/Myanmar independence from the British rule in 1948. With the aspect of political justifications, the paper positions from the Kachins’ perspective to analyze the armed conflicts between KIO and the Burmese army in terms of political injustice. The armed conflicts are conceptually approached with the theory of what the Galtung (1996) has termed as ‘Conflict Triangle’, in which the attitude and contradiction that have become the formation and catalysts towards the armed conflicts as behavior. Therefore, the paper identifies the ways in which the Burmese supremacy and dictatorship that escalated the armed conflicts between KIO and Burmese army as the root cause. The research applied a case study approach to analyze the armed conflicts between the KIO and Burmese army, in which the armed conflicts have been scrutinized with ‘Cultural, Structural and Direct Violence’ (Gultung, 1996) and the theoretical frame of negative peace. The study mainly relied on relevant secondary data for analysis. Historically, a wide range of cultural differences including language and religion between the Kachin and majority Burmese have yielded divergently ingrained attitudes of the two societies since the Burmese supremacy escalated the acrimonious attitude of the Kachin as an existential threat. As a result, the inequality in political participation for the decision-making power vested in the state constitutions. Consequently, such political discrimination has become one of the biggest contradictions enshrined as structural violence to move forwards the armed conflicts as direct violence. Furthermore, with the theoretical lens of negative peace; this paper explores how the KIO attempted peace negotiations with different central regimes for political resettlement. The paper attempts to pinpoint the root cause of the armed conflicts using theoretical framework and work towards a sensible solution that would be helpful for both the academia and stakeholders of the armed conflicts.

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