Government’s peace overture, China’s involvement and the Pangkham alliance

As United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an alliance of 7 Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) is pulling through its bi-annual meeting in two phases, one from from June 20 to 26 for the UNFC’s members and the other, from June 27 to 29 for all EAOs, to establish common ground like the one held in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State in 2016, the other 7 EAOs under the banner of Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC) and the government’s Peace Commission (PC) is geared to meet each other in China in the very near future.

The FPNCC members are United Wa State Army (UWSA), Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), Kokang or Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Mong La or National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA).

The initiative came from the government’s PC that has been entrusted by the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, under the leadership of Dr Tin Myo Win.

According to the TNLA vice chairman Tar Jode Jar, vice president Thein Zaw of PC has contacted the Chinese authorities and relayed the message to negotiate with the Pangkham alliance or FPNCC, on June 19.

In the recant BBC interview, the TNLA leader said that it is likely the negotiation and meeting with the government might take place after June 20, in one of the town along the border in China.

However, the overture from the government side didn’t mention anything whether it would like to meet the FPNCC as a group, according to the TNLA leader, although he reiterated that any meeting between the alliance and the government has to be as a group and not separately.

But Zaw Htay spokesperson of state’s counsellor office told 7 Day Daily on June 15 that the meeting won’t be meeting the FPNCC as a group but would be conducting it separately, in which one group would comprise of four, and the other three.

He said: “Regarding the Northern Alliance (another name for the FPNCC), we have opened negotiation channel. But we won’t discuss with the committee that is formed with seven members. During the convention in Nay Pyi Taw, the meeting with the state counsellor was done separately one with four groups and another with three groups (in two sets of meeting).”

He continued to stress that if not, negotiation with the government separately as individual group could also be done.

Aung Soe, a member of the government’s PC and a lower house lawmaker also echoed Zaw Htay’s position saying that the government “will meet three northern groups together [the TNLA, the AA, and MNDAA] and the rest separately.”

Additional to this government’s mode of separate meeting scheme, the KIO’s initiative to meet the Tatmadaw or the Military separately regarding the ceasefire negotiation has also recently been in the pipeline.

Insider government sources close to a signatory ethnic armed organization said that recently, Khin Zaw Oo secretary of the government’s PC, on his way back from Nepal, met General N’Ban La leader of the KIO in Chiang Mai, where he was asked to convey message to the Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing that the KIO wanted a direct negotiation channel to talk about the ceasefire. The Military side has signalled to agree to the proposal and negotiation now seems to be in progress, although no details were forthcoming, as of this writing.

Apart from the problems regarding the mode of meeting between the PC and FPNCC, the latter’s alteration or amendment demand of the present, government accepted Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), so that it could possibly sign it, could be also a hard nut to crack, as its proposal amounts to somewhat like agreeing to a Hong Kong-like status under the former British administration or confederation-like political system aspirations would not be that easy to compromise for the government.

Given such a backdrop, where China is so intensively involved in the peace process to at least make the Burma-China border free from armed engagement between the Northern Alliance and the Tatmadaw, so that its “One Belt One Road” economic scheme could be materialized, both contending parties – the Tatmadaw and the Northern Alliance – are forced to accommodate the wish of the giant, powerful neighbour.

As it is, in order to appease or sooth down the demanding powerful neighbour, who, by hook or by crook, is already deeply involved in the peace process game, the concerned stakeholders would have to come to terms by any means. And as such, it would be much better for all to compromise and find a middle ground that is acceptable to all parties, from agreeing to the mode of meeting to accommodating political aspirations that all could live with.

For too long, the contending parties only continue to be bogged down to gain political edge primarily on both sides of the political spectrum. This failure to recognise a common visionary concept on how the country should be moulded and ethnic aspirations accommodated, need to be corrected, if we are to end this vicious circle of violence, peace restored and eventual political settlement made possible.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Canadian Visit Exposes Media Blind Spots in Reporting Burma

Anyone working for social justice in Burma should be disappointed by the mainstream media’s coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Canada last week. Given ongoing military abuses throughout Burma’s ethnic regions, it was frustrating to see headlines focusing again and again that Canada must press Aung San Suu Kyi regarding her government’s brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslim communities in Rakhine State, while ignoring the plight of other ethnic peoples in Burma.

‘These Bengalis are killing members of their own community’: administrator discusses curfew, stability in northern Rakhine

June 11

The curfew has been extended in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships now eight months after the government launched a counter-insurgency campaign in the area. The evening curfew remains in effect from 9pm through 5am in Maungdaw, and between 10pm and 4am in Buthidaung.

Narinjara News interviewed Maungdaw Township Administrator U Myint Khine to ask about the two-month extension of the night curfew, which was ordered on June 9.

Q: Why has the night curfew been extended in these areas?
A: The reason is a lack of regional stability. These areas don’t have 24-hour electricity. The night curfew was issued as we don’t have full [visibility] at night.

Q: What has caused the instability?
A: Everyone already knows about the incident on October 9 [when an insurgent group staged lethal, pre-dawn attacks on three border guard posts]. After the October 9 incident, there are still killings in the villages at night. You must have heard about the Bengali people who are being killed at night in retaliation for cooperating with the government and relying on the administration. We will need to impose the night curfew as long as these issues continue.

Q: Who is responsible for the killings? Which organizations are they from?
A: The killings are related to the October 9 incident. In the past, there was an insurgent group called the RSO [Rohingya Solidarity Organization]. Now, there is a group called the Arakan something [Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army]. These Bengalis are killing members of their own community.

*Editor’s note: Social media accounts that self-identify as representing ARSA have repeatedly issued denials about attacking civilians.

Q: Have there been any more attacks against security forces?
A: They haven’t attacked the Tatmadaw or the Border Police forces. They are only staging attacks among their own community. They haven’t attacked the [Rakhine] ethnic people, government officials, the Tatmadaw or the police. They are only attacking [Bengalis] who have assisted the government.

Q: What is your opinion about these killings among the Bengalis?
A: I believe they are doing it to disturb the mechanisms of the administration and to attempt to scare the public to prevent further cooperation with the government.

Q: What security measures are being carried out by the township administrators to improve stability in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships?
A: Tatmadaw and Border Police forces continue to operate in these areas. We have been discussing the issue [of the murders] at meetings that are held twice a month. When these incidents happen, we try to find out the truth. But because the murders are happening within their community, we are unable to discern the whole truth. They tend to keep things among themselves. It’s not good for them to be united in such a bad way. Even when they know about someone breaking the law or know who is responsible for the killing, they are very afraid to act as a witness. So, it’s difficult to reveal the truth. We are doing our best but we still need to impose the night curfew as long as instability exists.

Prospect of the Karenni and Mon in the wake of uncertain UNFC’s subsistence

After the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) resignation, followed by the Wa National Organization (WNO), the hitherto United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) members of seven has been left with just five members. And of the remaining five, one of them – the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) – has also joined the Pangkham alliance, also known as Federal Political Negotiation Consultative Committee (FPNCC), together with the KIO and thus the UNFC couldn’t be sure, if the remaining members count would be four or five. But at least for now, it could be counted as five, because the SSPP has not resigned from the UNFC, although at the same time, it is also the Pangkham alliance member.

Who is navigating the peace process ship?

The second round of the Union Peace Conference went ahead in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, from May 24 to 29. During those six days of talks, stakeholders signed partial agreements.

Striking for Peace and political power in Myanmar: Seeking true unity in the struggling Union

There is a once-in-a-lifetime political moment unfolding around us, as the people of Myanmar (Burma) strike for a new status quo of politics and peace. Many of our leaders are fighting for their humanity, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, culture and tribe. After decades of marginalization, resistance leaders and armed ethnic groups have been given a voice to share their alternative political views with the nation and the world at the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference from may 24 to 29.

UNFC possible disintegration and the peace process outlook

The peace process that is scheduled to pick up again on May 24, known as Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong (UPC-21CP), now seems to be further away from being all-inclusive again as the one main ethnic bloc, United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), is beginning to disintegrate starting last month when the Pangkham-initiated, totally new peace approach was launched on April 19, by rejecting the government-led Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)-based peace process that so far has been the only game in town.

Beyond Ethnic Politics in Myanmar

When a truck crashed through a Thanbyuzayat traffic circle last month, destroying a golden Sheldrake sculpture, many Mon people saw their feelings of persecution embodied. The Sheldrake is a symbol of Mon culture and its destruction capped off 100 days of ethnic strain that included the opening of the controversial General Aung San Bridge and a by-election in which ethnic politics was central.

Learning to share: The CSSU Annual Meeting, 4-5 May 2017

Every man is my superior in some way.

In that I learn from him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 It was an honor to attend, observe and advise the Annual meeting of the almost 4 year old Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), the association of 3 political parties, 2 armed resistance armies, and 6 CSOs, in Chiangmai.

Subscribe to this RSS feed