Clashes between TNLA and RCSS continue as talks stall

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The Ta’ang National Liberation Army/Palaung State Liberation Front (TNLA/PSLF) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) have repeatedly clashed in northern Shan State over the past week.

TNLA_n_RCSS

The TNLA/PSLF information department posted on their Facebook page on May 4th a statement that claimed that five clashes had taken place with the RCSS/SSA troops and TNLA. The group reported that the next day that had eight clashes had taken place.

Reached for comment the TNLA’s spokesperson Mai Aik Kyaw claimed that both sides had suffered injuries during the clashes. “Fighting is widespread now. There is fighting going on in Namkham, Hsipaw, Namhsan, Kyaukme Townships,” he said.

On May 1, the RCSS/SSA released a statement that was critical of the TNLA. “Launching an offensive against our army clearly shows their lack of will towards peaceful negotiations and finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” the state statement said.

Both sides have indicated in public statements that they are willing to have talks, but these discussions have yet to take place. It remains unclear when or if talks will happen.

Colonel Sai La, a spokesperson of the RCSS/SSA, told SHAN that the RCSS welcomes outside mediation from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), the alliance of ethnic armed groups which the RCSS/SSA is not part of but which the TNLA is a member.

“When the statement from Pangsang, the headquarters of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) was released saying that they would negotiate between us. We were very pleased. We welcomed them to help us,” Col. Sai La explained.

“We held a meeting on April 26, 2016 and sent letters to the UNFC, the UWSA and the NDAA, we want to solve the problem immediately,” Col. Sai La added. “We want to solve the problem by peaceful means,” he said.

Col. Sai La explained that the RCSS has never thought of the TNLA as an enemy. “We live in the same state. We have helped each other when we faced difficulties. When problems happen, it’s not a good reason to solve these problems with armed force . . . We really hope to solve the problem with peaceful means,” he said.

Mai Aik Kyaw, the TNLA spokesperson, told SHAN that because the TNLA leadership cannot travel freely they had asked the UNFC to find a place outside of Burma to hold the talks.

“For the RCSS, they have signed the peace agreement so that they can go anywhere,” he said.

“Right now, we have to solve the fighting issue. This is because the RCSS has entered our controlled areas and violated our people that’s why the fighting has happened. If we cannot solve this problem we cannot talk,” he added.

On May 2, the TNLA’s news and information department released a statement accusing the RCSS/SSA of violating human rights in Ta’ang controlled territory. The statement claimed that the PLSF/TNLA had received requests from people living in the area to “clear out the RCSS/SSA forces from the area, due to their widespread violations of human rights”.

The statement went on to accuse the RCSS/SSA of “intrusion” in TNLA areas and building camps in their territory.

“We had never fought with the RCSS before. But, after they signed the NCA [National Ceasefire Agreement] they sent their troops into our territory,” Mai Aik Kyaw said.

By Staff / Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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