The Burma Army extended its unilateral ceasefire for 21 days after its expiration on August 31, while clashes with ethnic armed organizations continue to escalate in northern Shan State.
On Saturday, the office of the military’s commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing announced that the ceasefire would remain in place until September 21.
According to a statement released by the military chief, the Tatmadaw “has stopped all military movements in five designated military command regions, so that all stakeholders can implement the peace process with true commitment.”
The statement also said that negotiations between the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and ethnic armed organizations would continue.
Locals are increasingly worried about their security in northern Shan State as some 5,000 people have become internally displaced in recent weeks, and as fighting has spread to towns like Kutkai. Most recently, five civilians, including three women, an eight-year-old boy and an infant girl, were killed over the weekend when a shell hit their village in Kutkai’s Maw Heik village.
“Clashes occurred almost every day during the first four months of the army’s unilateral ceasefire,” Hawng Dau, a spokesperson for the Humanitarian Strategic Team-Northern Shan State, told SHAN, adding, “I think the clashes are still intensifying in northern Shan State, and I don’t think the unilateral ceasefire will do anything to change that.”
The ceasefire was originally declared on December 21, 2018, applicable to the northern, northeastern, eastern, east-central and triangle regional military command regions. It has subsequently been extended ever since.
Sai Naw Seng, a member of the Tai Youth Network, confirmed the increasing tension in northern Shan State.
“Leaders are holding discussions in peace talks and meetings, but there is fighting on the ground. I don’t know what’s going on,” he explained, adding that gunfire was heard on Monday in the Nam Poung area outside of Kutkai, just two days after the unilateral ceasefire was extended.
Representatives of the NRPC and the four members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups—the Arakan Army, Kachin Independence Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army—met in Kengtung, eastern Shan State, on August 31. Meanwhile, clashes between members of the Northern Alliance and the Tatmadaw continued in Kutkai, and the shelling that killed five civilians occurred on that day.