Government-backed demonstrations in support of the peace process have been held across Shan State since the start of April.
On April 6, over 10,000 government officials, school teachers, and citizens gathered in the central town of capital Taunggyi to show their support for the ongoing peace process between the Burmese government and ethnic armed groups.
An official from the Health Department said that the demonstration was held at the Taunggyi football stadium. The attendees of the demonstration included Taunggyi residents from 22 tracts, as well as members of government agencies and social organizations. People from villages outside Taunggyi such as Dong Lealong, Ban Din, Nam See, Nong Lur, and Pa Mon, also joined the march.
The demonstration was to support the draft nationwide ceasefire agreement that has been signed by the Union Peace Making Committee (UPWC) and Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) on 31 March.
A Shan State government office director, Kaung San Oo denied that the government was behind the demonstration: “This demonstration is held by the people. It’s their will to raise their concern for the peace process. The government did not order them to participate. We [government] only provided them with advice and assistance.”
Since April, thousands of citizens across Shan State such as Lang Khur, Loi Lem, Kun Hing, Lashio, Muse, Kyawkme, Tachilek, Kengtung, Mongsat, and Mongton, have gathered on the streets of their respective areas to show their support for the peace process in Burma.
“We also marched on the street in Loi Lem on April 6, from 8 o’clock in the morning. More than 3,000 people from Panglong, Loi Lem, and Mong Pawn participated in the demonstration but many people complained they were hungry because they didn’t have breakfast. We joined the march because the village head told us to join,” a 50-year-old man from Loi Lem Township said. “People in Kyawkme got 1,500 kyats for participating.”
According to a Namkham resident, the head of Namkham township sent a letter to sub-tract heads, ordering citizens to participate in a demonstration.