Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Sao Harn Yawnghwe: Military Council Destroyed the NCA

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Sao Harn Yawnghwe, a key figure in Burma’s peace process, said that the military council has destroyed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in a recent interview with SHAN.

“They still say that they will use the NCA. In practice, it is no longer possible to use the NCA. The purpose of the NCA was not only for making a ceasefire, the actual value of the NCA was as a platform for political dialogue. Political problems must be solved by political means. The military council has destroyed the NCA,” Sao Harn Yawnghwe told SHAN.

Sao Harn Yawnghwe said that the political talks which took place after 2011, are no longer possible after the 2021 military coup. He said that many of the key stakeholders involved in peace process – government officials, parliamentarians, political parties and other organizations – are now gone or no longer participate. Only the military representatives are participating at the moment. He said that it is impossible to continue political dialogue without political dialogue partners.

“How can we start political dialogue with only the military? If the military wants to start political dialogue, the military must transfer political power to an elected civilian government. It’s possible to talk with an elected civilian government. It will be meaningless if some organizations make political dialogue with only the military and without the participation of other political dialogue partners. This is why I say that the NCA is gone. It has already been destroyed and it is impossible to use it again,” Sao Harn Yawnghwe told SHAN.

According to Sao Harn Yawnghwe, the viability of the NCA depended on active participation from multiple key stakeholders: the U Thein Sein government, which signed the NCA; the NLD government, which initiated the 21st Century Panglong Conference; Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who was commander-in-chief of the Burma army during the Thein Sein government and the NLD government; and the NCA-signatory ethnic armed organizations. He now says that the NCA process is no longer viable.

“If the Burma army talks about democracy, the Burma army remove itself from politics. The problem is that the Burma army does not quit politics and says that they are trying to restore democracy in country through the NCA. This is not the correct process. If the Burma army says that they are holding on to the NCA, it’s just a trick. In practice, it’s not the correct process,” Sao Harn Yawnghwe told SHAN.

Sao Harn Yawnghwe is the son of Sao Shwe Thaik, who was the first president of Burma. He formed Euro-Burma Office in 1997, and is the current Director of the Euro-Burma Office. He is now living in Canada.

He was allowed to return to Burma in 2011 under the U Thein Sein government. Sao Harn Yawnghwe and his Euro-Burma Office provided ethnic armed organizations, civil society organizations and political parties with assistance with the goal of promoting a national reconciliation process. In 2017, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led NLD government banned him to enter into Burma without giving any specific reasons.

Sao Harn Yawnghwe played a vital role in the signing of the NCA between the U Thein Sien’s government and eight Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) including the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS).

At the moment, the RCSS continues to attend peace talk meeting with military council’s National Solidarity and Peace Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) under the auspices of the NCA. The RCSS has yet to participate in armed clashes against the SAC military dictatorship. Gen Yawd Serk of the RCSS attended the celebration of the eighth anniversary of the NCA in Naypyidaw on 15 October 2023, and gave a speech.

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