The Shan National Dialogue (ND), which was scheduled to convene last month in southern Shan State’s Langkhur Township has been put on hold indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The ND was supposed to move ahead following discussions in the 18th Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee meeting in Naypyidaw on March 12, as part of the country’s peace process.
“If the virus infection rate decreases, then the ND will be held as soon as possible,” Col Ohm Khur, spokesperson for the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), told SHAN. “Based on the situation of the coronavirus infections, we have no choice but to postpone the national dialogue,” he added, saying that all negotiations were on hold.
Spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) Sai Lek said that the party had recommended the suspension of the ND conference.
“If the participants of the conference get infected or show the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, it would be a major cause for complaint,” he said.
Head of Tai Youth Organization Sai Harn said he hoped that the ND would one day be a step toward “leading unity from ethnic diversity” in Shan State. He pointed out that it was supposed to be held in 2018, and that community-based organizations had made preparations to this end, but the Burmese military stopped the efforts and the conference was suspended until this year.
The government already postponed the fourth session of the Union Peace Conference, which was supposed to take place this month.
According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, there were 180 confirmed cases of the virus in the country, with 74 recoveries and six deaths.
Translated from Shan by Sai Seng Han