Amid clashes between Shan armed groups, the coalition head calls on the organizations to cooperate.
Chairman of the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) Sai Aik Pao called on Shan armed groups this week to cooperate to address ongoing conflict in northern Shan State.
The coalition of political parties, armed organizations and civil society groups released a statement on July 21 urging the leadership of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) to cooperate “for the good of the state,” form a committee for further dialogue, and even suggested that the organizations aim to one day merge.
Sai Aik Pao, who is also the chairman of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party—which holds one seat in the Shan State Parliament—pointed to recent displacement as the primary motivation for the statement.
According to local sources, nearly 2,000 Shan civilians have fled armed conflict in northern Shan State’s Namtu Township to date. Hundreds were displaced earlier this month when clashes broke out between the RCSS/SSA and the SSPP/SSA, the former of which opted to sign the government’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015, and the latter of which has abstained.
Generals Yawd Serk of the RCSS and Pang Pha of the SSPP “must work together…to jointly solve this armed conflict,” Sai Aik Pao told SHAN.
The internally displaced people—most of whom are women and children—stayed in monasteries in Namtu and Hsipaw townships during the fighting. Many reportedly returned to their homes last week to tend to their rice paddies, but told SHAN that they were worried about conflict again breaking out in the region.
A Namtu local said that he heard the sound of gunshots near the villages of Wan Mai Huay and Pang Kut on Monday, but SHAN could not independently confirm this.
The Myanmar Army has a heavy presence throughout Shan State; hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by offensives over the last three decades. Northern Shan State also has territory claimed by ethnic armed organizations including the RCSS/SSA, SSPP/SSA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and the Kachin Independence Army.