Burmese gov’t still exercising an ethnic ‘divide and rule’ strategy-Ethnic Armed Groups Reject Individual Peace Talks, Prefer Tripartite Dialogue

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese government is holding fast to its policy of only engaging in cease-fire talks with ethnic armed groups individually.

The government is avoiding a discussion with the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), a broad-based ethnic coalition that is seeking to negotiate a countrywide cease-fire to be followed by talks on national reconciliation and peace.

Karen National Union Vice Chairman Pado David Tharkapaw Karen National Union Vice Chairman Pado David Tharkapaw.

Karen National Union Vice Chairman Pado David Tharkapaw told Mizzima on Thursday that the government’s recent order instructing cease-fire groups to negotiate individually with state or regional governments is simply its ongoing “divide and rule” tactic.

“We want to talk with them as an alliance group. Talking individually is the policy of the past government. But they are following this same path. It is also a tactic for buying time and to break up our unity,” he said.

However, he said that the ethnic armed groups are united and there are no differences or disagreements among them. The coalition will continue its fight for the emergence of a genuine federal union and national reconciliation, he said.

La Nan, the Joint Secretary of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), said the government is following the same old policy of the Burmese socialist party led by former dictator General Ne Win. The current government also uses the term “armed insurrection,” he said, when what is at stake are issues of governance, more political autonomy and human rights. Differences cannot be settled through the use of arms, he said, but only through a political dialogue.

The UNFC sent a letter to President Thein Sein on August 17 calling for a political dialogue and a halt to all ongoing military offensives in ethnic areas. Copies of the letter were also sent to US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and ministers in China, Thailand, India, and the European Union.

General-Secretary Nai Han Thar of the New Mon State Party said it would only prolong ethnic problems if the government refuses to talk to the ethnic coalition group.

“If we could work together, talk together, the work could be completed soon. If they delay this, they will not benefit anyone,” Nai Han Thar told Mizzima.

The United Wa State Army (UWSAP) has not yet spoken out about the government’s position on separate cease-fire negotiations because it is awaiting a decision by their central committee, said UWSA spokesman Aung Myint. The UWSA is not a full UNFC member.

The UNFC was formed on February 17, 2011, with 12 cease-fire and non-cease-fire groups to work for the creation of a federal union. Among them, six are primary members and six are associate members.

The UWSA, KIO, New Mon State Party (NMSP), Shan State Army – North (SSA-N), and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) or Mongla group had cease-fire agreements with the military regime, but they have regrouped as the UNFC after failing to achieve their right to self-determination.


Ethnic Armed Groups Reject Individual Peace Talks, Prefer Tripartite Dialogue

August 19th, 2011

Independent Mon News Agency – The leaders of several armed ethnic groups are united in rejecting the idea of individual peace talks with the newly formed Burmese government. Instead, they are demanding the Union Government prepare a platform for ‘tripartite dialogue’ for nationwide peace.

Burma’s President U Thein Sein held a meeting with local social and economic communities on 17 August at the Myanmar International Convention Center (MICC). During his speech, he discussed the government’s ‘peace agenda’, saying, “if any individual armed group has a desire for peace, they can negotiate with the State or Division government at any time”.

He also said, “We open the doors for them, and will treat them according to the three main national causes under the existing Constitution”.

The ethnic armed group leaders rejected the president’s proposal, calling instead for tripartite dialogue to include three conflicting factions as dialogue partners – the current government, pro-democracy opposition groups, and ethnic nationality groups.

Vice President of Karen National Union (KNU), Badoh David Tarkapaw, said, “We want a dialogue along with our alliance, and there we will reach peace for the entire country. We will not accept individual peace talk with State governments.”

The Union Government office also sent out a letter yesterday, informing all armed groups to deal with their respective State or Division government.

United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) General Secretary Nai Hong Sar confirmed that there must be ‘tripartite political dialogue’ to solve the country’s political problems and conflict in the ethnic regions.

He said, “The political problems must be solved by political means. If not, we can not achieve peace.”

An alliance of twelve ethnic groups, the UNFC adopted a policy calling on its members to hold peace dialogue only through their alliance. The alliance is concerned the government could use ‘divide and rule’ tactics toward individual groups.

Another ethnic ceasefire group, the Karenni National Progressive Party, said to the media that if U Thein Sein truly desires peace dialogue, the government should regulate it as law in the State Parliament, including details of the proposed process for peace building.

The UNFC was formed in February 2011, and is composed of six armed groups as permanent members: the Karen National Union (KNU), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Kachin Independence Organization, the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), and the Shan State Progressive Party. Other coordinating organizations include the Pa-oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO), the Palaung State Libration Front (PSLF), Arakan National Council (ANC), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Wa National League (WNOO) and the Kachin National Organization (KNO).

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