Gen Yawd Serk of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) says the Burmese military was not following the terms of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) when Brig-Gen Khin Zaw, the Burmese military attaché in Bangkok, on Wednesday banned a meeting of the Committee of Shan State Unity (CSSU) that was due to take place for three days starting yesterday in Chiang Mai.
The ban was apparently due to the fact that a non-signatory to the NCA, the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army, or SSPP, had been invited. The Burmese brigadier-general said that the RCSS/SSA “infringed” Burma’s election law and endangered the peace process by inviting the SSPP.
“I have my doubts [about the Tatmadaw’s sincerity] when they accuse us of endangering the peace process,” Gen Yawd Serk said today at a press conference in the northern Thai capital. “If this is the case, they should contact our office.
“The military attaché says that the meeting was to include a non-NCA signatory group. This group is the SSPP. However, it should be noted that the SSPP regularly attends meetings within the UNFC [United Nationalities Federal Council, a coalition of ethnic armed groups who declined to sign the NCA with the government in October 2015].
“So how can this be hindering the peace process if the UNFC regularly meets with the Tatmadaw and the government?”
He added: “Their accusation is unreasonable. We were not planning an underground meeting. It was announced officially. I just don’t understand how this [ban] can happen.”
“This letter [ordering the ban on the meeting] was sent directly from the Burmese military. But when we asked the government, they said they didn’t know anything about it.”
The CSSU meeting was slated to be held on July 20-22 in Chiang Mai. Members were to review the recent round of the Union Peace Conference, dubbed the 21st Century Panglong Conference. The members said the meeting was intended to improve future peace talks by ensuring there was a common understanding of the five issues under discussion: political affairs; security matters; economic affairs; social issues; and land and natural resource management.
RCSS/SSA leader Yawd Serk said that the Burmese military attaché has overstepped the terms and conditions of the NCA.
“This act affects good will,” said Gen Yawd Serk. “We are sincere about establishing a peaceful union. That’s why we are working on the terms of the NCA.”
On March 4, 2016, Shan Herald reported that a CSSU meeting in Yangon was also called off after intervention by local government officials.
The CSSU comprises: Shan political parties; Shan armed groups; and Shan community-based organizations, including the Shan State Joint Action Committee (SSJAC), which itself includes the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the SSPP, the RCSS, the Seng Kiao People’s Militia, the New Generation Group (Shan State), Shan Youth Association, Shan Nationality Organization-Thailand.
Gen Yawd Serk is the current head of the CSSU.
Statement of the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU)
20 July, 2017
Members of the CSSU, which includes Shan political parties, armed organizations, and domestic and international civil society organizations, had planned to hold a meeting in Thailand on July 20, 2017. The intention was to review the proceedings of the recently held 3rd Union Peace Conference in order to improve results in future peace conferences by ensuring that there is a common understanding of the five issues under discussion – 1. Political Affairs, 2. Security Matters, 3. Economic Affairs, 4. Social Issues, and 5. Land and Natural Resources Management
However, on July 19, 2017, the Thai 3rd Regional Army informed the organizers that the Myanmar Military Attaché in Bangkok had requested the Thai Government to prevent the CSSU meeting from taking place. It was claimed that the CSSU was obstructing the Myanmar peace process and that the membership of the CSSU includes a non-signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
Taking into consideration the interests of the Thai Government and the long-term interests of the peace process, the CSSU decided that:The CSSU meeting planned for 20-22 July 2017 will not take place;
- In order to build peace, the Government (of Myanmar) needs to be broadminded, and if there are any doubts, clarification should be requested;
- The planned CSSU meeting was going to discuss the five issues agreed in the NCA. Therefore the conference was not in any way obstructing the peace process;
- The CSSU was established in 2013 to facilitate peacebuilding in order to establish a federal democratic union. We will continue to work to achieve our objective.Committee for Shan State UnityContacts:
- Sao Borng Khur (+66 2896 0970)
- Sai Nyunt Lwin (+95 7324 1587)
- Sai Boe Aung (+95 4100 1654)
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)