SHAN – Shan Herald Agency for New [English] http://english.panglong.org Shan Herald Agency for News Mon, 29 May 2017 09:37:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Shan Resistance Day marked in Wanhai, Loi Tai Leng http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/23/shan-resistance-day-marked-in-wanhai-loi-tai-leng/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/23/shan-resistance-day-marked-in-wanhai-loi-tai-leng/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 07:34:02 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16293 The annual celebrations for Shan Resistance Day were held on May 21 at the two largest Shan armed organizations’ HQs—Loi Tai Leng, base of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) on the Shan-Thai border; and at Wanhai in central Shan State, the nerve center of the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP).

Organizers estimate that around a thousand people attended the 59th anniversary event at Wanhai in southern Shan State, where SSPP soldiers conducted a military parade.

Speaking at Wanhai, SSPP/SSA superintendent Gen. Hsoten said, “We continue to bear arms in order to protect our people. We are determined to continue our armed struggle alongside the people. Conflict may exit among us with regard to our rights and differing views. But for the sake of unity and stability, we must tolerate one another. At this time next year, we will be commemorating the 60th Shan Resistance Day. If we were to compare that with a person’s life, we would say that it is time to send him off to a home for retirees.”

He continued: “However, for those of us who claim to be ‘freedom fighters,’ there is no retirement. The length of our resistance may be advancing, so we must adapt as though we were continually youthful and strong.

“Be quick! Be fast! Be true [to the cause]!” he appealed to the partisan crowd. “We need to build our strength year by year. Only then can we protect the public. The day that our army breaks away from the people is the day the army is disintegrated. Please stand for our people’s interests as a people’s army.”

At Loi Tai Leng, central command post of the RCSS/SSA, the military parade and festivities were reportedly attended by some 3,000 people. RCSS leader Gen. Yawd Serk addressed the audience, emphasizing the need to maintain a sustainable and stable peace in accordance with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

“Being an NCA signatory, we have been maintaining peace as mandated in the accord. And also, as we are a legal organization, if you face arrest for associating with the RCSS, please report the matter to our nearest liaison office. We will continue to fulfill our commitment and uphold the promise of our political objectives,” said Yawd Serk.

Pa Nang Lu – wife of Sao Noi Soyanta, the man considered the father of modern Shan resistance – also took to the stage. She spoke about how her husband led Shan youths against the ruthless Burmese army, and how he founded the Shan armed forces, known as num serk han – the “young warriors” who evolved into today’s Shan State Army.

The RCSS ceremony concluded with a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the martyrs who sacrificed their lives defending the Shan cause.

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Chinese shadow over Myanmar’s wars http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/22/chinese-shadow-over/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/22/chinese-shadow-over/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 15:54:38 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16289 When the second 21st Century Panglong peace conference opens on May 24, government representatives will need to engage ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) from two distinct regional blocs. While all EAOs have similar grievances and political demands, their divergent security situations and negotiating leverages will complicate government efforts to forge a genuine Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

In Myanmar’s insurgency-prone north and northeast, China has powerful influence over armed groups fighting against Myanmar government forces. Politically and strategically, Beijing is known to view the groups as a strategic buffer and bargaining chip in negotiations with Naypyidaw, particularly over its significant trade and investment with the neighboring country.

This translates into supportive relationships with Myanmar’s EAOs operating in the north and northeast, some of the most conflict-ridden areas of the country. Some of these groups, namely United Wa State Army (UWSA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), are successor organizations to the Beijing-backed Communist Party of Burma (BCP).

They were established following the mutiny of ethnic rank and file against their largely Burman commanders and political leaders in 1989. China continues to support these organizations through commercial and cultural connections, development programs, and, more importantly to the civil war, through the provision of military hardware, ammunition and other supplies, and training.

The UWSA, the largest and best equipped of Myanmar’s EAOs, has received heavy artillery, man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) surface-to-air missiles and light armored vehicles, as well as training in how to use the equipment from China. The armed group also operates a small arms factory built with Chinese support from which it supplies weapons to other EAOs, particularly in the northeast.

When the MNDAA and its leader, Peng Jiasheng, were forced out of the Shan State’s Kokang region of northeast Myanmar into China’s southwestern Yunnan province by a Myanmar army offensive in 2009, Beijing provided shelter to the fleeing rebels. When the MNDAA reentered Myanmar in 2015, it was markedly stronger and better armed than before, likely due to Chinese support.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), traditionally wary of China, also benefits through trade ties and certain logistics support. Through the UWSA and KIO, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), and Arakan Army (AA) have received weapons and training indirectly from China. Together, the northern EAOs represent the largest and best armed groups in the country.

Thailand, the traditional backer of EAOs in Myanmar’s southeast, has over time shifted its view of the insurgent groups. Once viewed and used as a buffer against a traditional enemy, they are now seen as an impediment to cross-border trade and investment opportunities as Myanmar opens to the world.

Previously a profitable conduit for black market weapons and ammunition facilitated by tacit support from elements in the government and military, Bangkok is now actively encouraging EAOs along its border to sign ceasefires and engage in the Myanmar government’s peace process.

In addition to increased trade and investment, particularly in agriculture, natural resources and energy, Bangkok is aiming to further limit the narcotics trade out of Myanmar, control illegal immigration and encourage the repatriation of tens of thousands of refugees in camps that for decades have dotted its border.

The main EAOs along the Thai-Myanmar border – Karen National Union (KNU), New Mon State Party (NMSP), and Karenni National Progress Party (KNPP) – lost their profitable tax gates for black market trade between Myanmar and Thailand in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Since then, trade has largely shifted to official border crossings at Mae Sot-Myawaddy and Sangkhlaburi-Pyathounzu, as well as smaller government controlled crossings. Losses in territory have further eroded the ability of EAOs to raise funds through the exploitation of natural resources from logging and mining.

For instance, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), another group opposed to the Myanmar government, has been intermittently blocked access to Thailand due to its alleged involvement in the narcotics trade. Though because it can still source weapons through Myanmar’s Shan state from the north, where China-supported groups are active, it is not totally reliant on Thailand for its survival.

Moreover, stocks of Vietnam War-era weaponry have dried up and Thailand has recently become much less willing to turn a blind eye to illicit arms sales to these groups through its territory. Thailand’s government and military, while no doubt involved in the past, have never been a major source of arms and ammunition in the same way as China has provided support to EAOs in Myanmar’s north.

In 1995, heavy Thai pressure was an important factor in the NMSP’s ceasefire that year. In the 2000s and up until the KNU’s ceasefire in 2012, Bangkok put pressure on the armed group to avoid destabilizing armed clashes along its border. In the 2000s, it also sporadically shut down Karen supply routes across the Moei and Salween Rivers to influence KNU policy.

Chinese backing also allows the northern EAOs to negotiate with Naypyidaw from a position of greater strength than more isolated armed groups in the south. They have been able to fight a war in which the Myanmar military has incurred significant casualties and the EAOs have been able to secure autonomous control over significant swaths of territory.

Indeed, these groups’ ability to replenish their supplies of arms and ammunition from China allows them to continue the fight at an intensity not seen since the conflict-ridden 1980s. It also puts them in a stronger position at the negotiating table, especially if the UWSA-led Pangshang grouping of northern EAOs consolidate into a cohesive negotiating bloc.

The Pangshang grouping, named after the Wa state’s capital, has already stated they will not sign the government’s NCA in its present form and that they aim to negotiate new more favorable terms. The main southern groups – KNU, NMSP, RCSS, KNPP and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) – face a much different situation.

Without the political or economic backing of Thailand or access to weapons and ammunition, as well as the real possibility of a Thai blockade of cross-border supplies, there is little potential for rearming, raising substantial new recruits, or taking back lost territory as China-backed groups have done.

The level of conflict in the north, including a particularly pitched battle between government forces and the KIO, would be impossible to replicate in the south without a dramatic shift in Thailand’s current position.

That’s viewed as unlikely under either the current military regime and the possible comeback of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra’s Peua Thai party at future polls, as both have eagerly sought business opportunities in Myanmar.

The main armed groups – KNU, RCSS and DKBA – have already signed the NCA, while NMSP and KNPP are rumored to be amenable to signing but it is still uncertain if they will attend the upcoming conference on May 24.

Other NCA signatories – Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council (KNU/KNLAPC), Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Chin National Front (CNF), and Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), and All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) – all have negligible soldiers under arms.

The reality of Myanmar’s ethnic civil war is that while many groups share the same grievances, including calls for ethnic rights, self-determination and federalism, there are specific regional and political differences that will require a more nuanced government approach if Panglong is to have a chance at achieving genuine and lasting peace.

Brian McCartan is a Chiang Mai-based independent analyst

Link Story : http://www.atimes.com/article/chinese-shadow-myanmars-wars/

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Peace process in pieces in Myanmar http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/22/peace-process-in-pieces-in-myanmar/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/22/peace-process-in-pieces-in-myanmar/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 15:47:24 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16286 On May 24, when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi opens the second round of her signature 21st Century Panglong peace conference, a high-stakes initiative to end decades of debilitating and divisive civil war, the outcomes and upshots will be pivotal to her democratically elected administration.

The meeting will aim to draw on the unifying symbolism of the original Panglong conference held by Suu Kyi’s national founder father, Aung San, who signed an agreement with ethnic Shan, Kachin and Chin representatives on February 12, 1947 at the small Shan state market town of Panglong. The agreement paved the way for the declaration of independence from British colonial rule the following year.

Despite the historic parallels and Suu Kyi’s strong political clout, few observers believe the upcoming meeting will meaningfully advance national reconciliation without a significant change in tack. Suu Kyi’s insistence that all armed groups agree to an elaborate National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) before holding any political talks towards the creation of a federal union remains a major sticking point.

So, too, are major battles underway between government forces and ethnic armed organizations in northern Kachin, northeastern Shan and western Rakhine states. While Suu Kyi speaks of peace and reconciliation, military commander Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has simultaneously ramped up lethal offensives that have led to the heaviest fighting since the conflict-ridden 1980s.

Suu Kyi has made peacemaking a top policy priority, some say to the detriment of other pressing matters such as bureaucratic, economic and legal reforms. It is one of the few policy areas where she has appeared in public meeting representatives from across political and ethnic spectrums.

But her failure to establish anything resembling peace in the country’s north and northeast, and ongoing communal violence in Rakhine state have severely tainted her previous image as a persecuted pro-democracy icon. The perception shift has been particularly damning as a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle against military repression and advocacy for peaceful reconciliation.

Ethnic group representatives who have attended meetings with a working committee preparing for the talks say they are appalled by what they liken more to bullying than negotiation, with the military giving them only two options: accept the 2008 constitution, which solidifies a powerful political role for the military over a highly centralized political system, or face annihilation on the battlefield.

The 2008 constitution, drafted under military rule and promulgated after what most independent observers viewed as a rigged and fraudulent referendum, gives the military effective veto power over any bid to change important clauses in the charter. It also gives the military autonomous control over crucial security related ministries, namely defense, border affairs and home.

Ethnic representatives argue that without a new federal constitution that could be put to a genuinely free and fair referendum, prospects for ending the war will remain dim. All ethnic groups want “full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas,” as enshrined in the original 1947 Panglong Agreement brokered by Suu Kyi’s independence hero father.

Myanmar’s federal constitution was abrogated and replaced by iron-fisted rule after a 1962 military coup that ushered in nearly five decades of soldier-led governance. Myanmar’s ethnic wars represent some of the longest running conflicts in the world.

Officially, eight armed groups signed the NCA in October 2015. Of those only three — Shan State Restoration Council, Karen National Union and Democratic Karen Benevolent Army — actually have armed forces. The remaining five are small groups, claiming to represent the interests of Karen, Pa-O, Chin and Rakhine (Arakanese) ethnic groups, may best be described as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

On March 30, Suu Kyi announced that five more key groups – New Mon State Party, Karenni National Progressive Party, Arakan National Congress, Lahu Democratic Union and Wa National Organization – were poised to sign the NCA. The groups have since denied they took any such decision.

While the first two groups have armed wings, the other three could hardly be described as “key ethnic armed groups”, as most are even smaller than the five NGO-type groups that signed the 2015 agreement. But Suu Kyi appears concentrated on boosting the number of NCA signatories, even if they are largely insignificant to resolving the wars, in an apparent bid to conceal the policy’s underlying failure.

Meanwhile, major groups that have not signed the NCA — Kachin Independence Army, United Wa State Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Shan State Army/Shan State Progress Party, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State, and Arakan Army — account for more than 80% of the country’s armed rebels.

Failed peace processes are nothing new in Myanmar, previously known as Burma. In 1958, a caretaker government led by General Ne Win offered an amnesty without political concessions to communists, army mutineers and ethnic rebels. Those who accepted were granted business concessions, similar to the terms offered to the few signatories of the current NCA.

Peace talks were held in 1963 in which Ne Win’s coup-installed government demanded surrender and offered only “rehabilitation.” Groups that accepted were converted into “home guard units”, known as Ka Kwe Ye, which were allowed to conduct business, including opium trading, in their native areas. The deal ushered the rise of Myanmar’s most notorious drug lords, including Lo Hsing Han and Khun Sa.

In 1980, the government announced a new amnesty for rebels and political prisoners. At that time, separate talks were held with the KIA and the Communist Party of Burma that eventually broke down on the government’s offer of only rehabilitation for unconditional surrender.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government entered ceasefire agreements with about two dozen armed groups in exchange for lucrative business concessions, including a deal with the KIA that held for 17 years before faltering in 2011 when the group started making fresh demands for federalism.

The NCA’s only achievement so far appears to be creating rifts between signatories and non-signatories and internal divisions among those who have signed. Within Karen National Union, for example, there is deep disagreement among leaders and those who believe they have sold out their long struggle for autonomy for short-sighted business deals.

Even the smallest of the signatories have been granted lucrative business concessions, including rights to sell imported used cars from neighboring Thailand. Bigger groups have invested heavily in real estate and palm oil plantations.

The main difference between current and past talks is the heavy involvement of foreign peacemakers and lavish international funding in Suu Kyi’s initiative, interventions that have further skewed incentives and motivations.

History shows central demands for ethnic groups’ unconditional surrender — now dubbed as ‘DDR’ for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration by authorities — in exchange for business concessions seldom hold and are not a long-term solution to what is at root a political problem.

If Suu Kyi truly wants peace and reconciliation, she could take the moral high ground by announcing a unilateral government ceasefire rather than insisting ethnic armed groups sign an agreement many of them legitimately view as a military trap.

But until the Noble Peace Prize laureate stands up to the military and offers ethnic groups genuine self-determination and autonomy, her signature initiative risks repeating past failed efforts and leaving behind a country more at war than when she was elected as a reconciliatory peacemaker.

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Fighting reignites in Kokang region http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/13/fighting-reignites-in-kokang-region/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/13/fighting-reignites-in-kokang-region/#respond Sat, 13 May 2017 15:30:49 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16259 Fighting has broken out again between the Burmese army and Kokang rebels near the Sino-Burmese border. The clashes coincide with a meeting between members of the Northern Alliance – Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA); Arakan Army (AA); Kachin Independence Army (KIA); and the Kokang-based Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) – and the Chinese special representative in Kunming. The United Wa State Army (UWSA) was also represented at the Kunming talks.

China’s special representative for Burma, Sun Gunxiang (left) and Bao Youxiang, the leader of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) (right).

Northern Alliance news sources report that at 7am on May 11, heavy weapons were used relentlessly to shell MNDAA bases at Hon-aik in the Kokang region. The MNDAA reportedly responded with ground force attacks.

Hostilities were expected to escalate and intensify as more soldiers are being deployed to the region, according to the report on May 11. An unspecific number of casualties and injuries were also reported.

“Yesterday, the armed clashes were intense,” commented Khun Gamani, an observer at the border, on social media. “Government forces shelled the Kokang positions and advanced forwards. There were many casualties. It appears that the [Burmese] military is spending three billion kyat [US$2.2 million] per day in heavy weapons fire alone. They should realize, after wars in Kachin State in 2011 and 2015, and now in Kokang this year, that millions of dollars have been spent without bringing any benefits [to the people].”

In recent days, China’s special representative for Burma, Sun Gunxiang, met leaders of the Northern Alliance and the Wa in the Yunnanese capital of Kunming to discuss the ongoing peace process in Burma.

The Northern Alliance, as agreed in the recent Panghsang Resolution, maintains that only when all seven ethnic armed organizations, including the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), are accepted and recognized by the Burmese govern

ment, will peace negotiations be able to proceed, Brig-Gen Tarr Jode Jarr, the deputy chairman of the TNLA, told reporters.

China’s Special Representative Sun is due to speak next to the Burmese government to convey the outcome of talks in Kunming. Burma’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi is slated to travel to Beijing on May 14 to attend the “Modern Silk Road” or “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) project, an international forum based on a developing Chinese business model. The current armed conflicts in Kachin State and northern Shan State are reportedly on the agenda at the OBOR conference.

Han Yawnghwe, a Euro-Burma Office (EBO) delegate who closely follows ethnic affairs, said in a recent interview with The Irrawaddy that China will continue to exert influence over Burma until a resolution can be found to the armed conflicts in the northern regions.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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23 landmines uncovered near Namtu temple http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/12/23-landmines-uncovered-near-namtu-temple/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/12/23-landmines-uncovered-near-namtu-temple/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 08:55:08 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16252 Twenty-three landmines have been discovered, planted near the temple compound where a blast occurred on Monday, causing serious injury to eight novice monks.

“After the bomb blast that wounded eight novice monks, the following day local authorities and community leaders went to the area and uncovered more than twenty mines near the temple,” Nang Kham Phong, a local aid worker in Namtu, told Shan Herald on Thursday.

“The mines were buried east of Zeya Sukha Temple in Mong Yen Tract, Namtu Township,” said Nang Kham Phong. “They have now been moved to the local military office.”

Many years ago, the Burma military set up positions in this village. When they withdrew from the area the villagers reclaimed their lands.

According to an official from the local administration, authorities suspect there could be many more devices planted in and around Mong Yen. He said that that the landmines may have been planted in a line, but otherwise they had no idea how to locate them. He said that the local administration could not be the ones to take responsibility for this.

Burma was ranked third most dangerous country in the world for landmines in 2014 behind only Colombia and Afghanistan, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a research and monitoring arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

 

A report from the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor published in November 2016 reads: “In September 2016, Deputy Minister of Defense Maj-Gen Myint Nwe informed the Myanmar parliament that the army continues to use landmines in internal armed conflict. At the same session, a Member of Parliament from Shan State stated that ‘it can’t be denied that non-state armed groups are also using landmines…particularly since 2012.’”

Landmine explosions are regularly reported across Shan State. On July 7, 2015, Shan Herald reported that a 70-year-old woman was killed after stepping on a landmine near a Burmese military compound in northern Shan State’s Hsenwi Township.

Another case occurred in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township on July 22 last year, when a villager and his eight-year-old daughter were seriously injured by a landmine explosion when they went into a forest to cut firewood.

According to an ICBL report in November 2015, 396 people had been killed, 3,145 injured, and 204 affected in an unknown extent by landmines in Burma since 1999. However, the report noted that the real figure could be much higher.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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KIO leaves UNFC in a dilemma http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/08/kio-leaves-unfc-steering-the-ethnic-armed-alliance-a-shakeup/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/08/kio-leaves-unfc-steering-the-ethnic-armed-alliance-a-shakeup/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 17:41:08 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16232 The very existence of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) ethnic alliance has been called into question by the departure of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), say Burma observers.

 

The KIO reportedly etched a draft resignation letter last week, according to an official who requested anonymity, speaking to Shan Herald.

Alongside its ally the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), the KIO have recently attended talks in Wa army headquarters, Panghsang, where they forged close relationships with the members of the so-called Northern Alliance—Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Arakan Army (AA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Does it then follow that if the KIO leaves the UNFC, will the SSPP/SSA follow suit?

“I think the UNFC is founded on the principle of ‘political allies,’” said That Hmu, an ex-student army combatant and now a senior member of the Democratic Party for New Society. “It does not help them at the negotiation table with their counterparts the Burmese military. They have been cornered and pressured; they have been crushed to pieces.”

The SSPP/SSA’s Maj-Gen Sai Htoo recently told reporters that his group has no intention of leaving the UNFC. Some observers, however, have raised eyebrows and will continue to monitor the Shan army’s progress in talks with the Northern Alliance.

Meanwhile, the Burmese government remains confident that five members of the UNFC—the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Arakan National Council (ANC), the Wa National Organization (WNO), and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) —will ultimately sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

Burma ethnologist Nai Banya Aung from Mon News Agency said, “The NMSP’s meeting will come to an end today, 8 May, while the KNPP will hold theirs on May 10. The decision on whether to sign the NCA depends on the outcome of those meetings.”

The NMSP maintains that the adoption of the NCA should only be taken when all members of the UNFC are in consent.

“There will be a meeting between the Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN), a negotiating team formed by the UNFC, and the government’s Peace Commission (PC) on May 14 – 18. By then, we will have a better picture of how close to signing the NCA they are,” said Nai Banya Aung.

The government, of course, insists that the NCA is the only pathway to peace. It has agreed “in principle” to the UNFC’s 9-point plan, but has not committed to accepting it.

And observers also question whether the Arakan National Council/Arakan Army (ANC/AA) will eventually sign the NCA or follow the UWSA-led political approach.

In the meantime, both the NMSP and KNPP have requested that the NCA treaty be updated to incorporate the UNFC’s 9-point proposal. If the government and military insist that no amendments are permitted to the original document, then it seems unlikely that there is much they can do.

We can conclude that, under any circumstance, the five remaining members of the UNFC must seriously consider signing the NCA. However, in the immediate term, that prospect is unlikely.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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The anti-Suu Kyi movement http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/08/the-anti-suu-kyi-movement/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/08/the-anti-suu-kyi-movement/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 09:18:25 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16226 As far as I know, I was the very first person to criticize Aung San Suu Kyi publicly. This occurred in my first Dictator Watch statement, from February 2002 – End the Dialogue: An Open Letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

At that time, pretty much everyone supported her. I think a few people from the ethnic nationalities were suspicious, about her lack of cooperation with them, but this is Burma after all. No one was going to confront her, and cause her to lose face. I realized that it would be useful to say what people of the country, because of social form, were too deferential to mention.

In the statement I was exceedingly polite. I just pointed out that you can’t negotiate with tyrants, certainly from a position of weakness. She was involved in a “dialogue” with the dictatorship, which had released some political prisoners to give her ammunition that the approach might yield real results. To my knowledge, this was the first time they “played” her, used her to reduce the domestic and international pressure that their human rights atrocities generated. But it was absolutely clear that the regime was not sincere, that the release was a token step, and that the dialogue would never change anything. Now, fifteen years later, she is still following the same failed strategy.

My criticism subsequently became much more pointed, when she betrayed the pro-democracy movement by reregistering the NLD in 2011, ending her election boycott; when she ignored the new Burma Army offensives in the North against the Kachin and other groups, also starting that year; and when she refused to condemn the Muslim pogroms that were perpetrated the following year, and which grew into the Rohingya genocide. I called her “the worst person in Burma,” and then compared her to Dictator Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe, who similarly changed from being a resistance leader to an authoritarian ruler. Now, she has even progressed from surrendering to the generals to actively covering-up and attempting to justify their crimes.

The people of Burma have to throw off their reservations and oppose her forcefully. Let your voices be heard in London tomorrow (I wish I could be there!), elsewhere around the world, and most importantly inside Burma itself. If she has her way, you will always be dominated by the Tatmadaw. You will never know true freedom. There will be no peace, and the crimes against humanity will never cease.

http://www.dictatorwatch.org/prantisuukyi.html

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RCSS/SSA listens to villagers’ opposition to Mong Kung coal mines http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/04/rcssssa-listens-to-villagers-opposition-to-mong-kung-coal-mines/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/04/rcssssa-listens-to-villagers-opposition-to-mong-kung-coal-mines/#respond Thu, 04 May 2017 08:02:17 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16210 Representatives of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) sat for a meeting yesterday with local residents in Mong Kung Township to discuss a controversial coal-mining project in the area, which is located in Loilem district in southern Shan State.

According to Sao Ekka Sina, a Buddhist monk representing villagers who oppose the mine, the RCSS/SSA representatives asked the local people to clarify whether they were against the project and why.

“We spoke with Lt-Col Sai Sarm, Maj Saw Jing and Sai Toon from the RCSS/SSA,” said Sao Ekka Sina. “They wanted to know the background to last month’s protest.”

On April 11, more than 4,000 residents in Mong Kung staged a demonstration against the Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter coal-mining companies, claiming that the mining operations would cause grave environmental destruction and impact the livelihoods of local people.

Sao Ekka Sina, who was one of the demonstration organizers, told Shan Herald that the RCSS/SSA representatives said yesterday that they were not taking sides with either the villagers or the mining firms, but instead felt it was their responsibility to listen to local opinions. They told the village assembly that they would also listen to the mining companies’ perspective.

“We told them [RCSS/SSA] that we strongly disagree with the mining project,” the monk said. “We have had discussions with the company managers and they agreed to cease operations and move out of the area by May 13. We told them that if they continued mining we would resume our protests.”

“The RCSS/SSA has a duty to protect the people,” said Sai Long, an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) representing Mong Kung Township, who attended yesterday’s meeting. “However, the RCSS/SSA representatives told the villagers that they can only intervene if their superiors order it.”

The central government in Naypyidaw granted permission to the Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter companies to launch the coal-mining projects in Mong Kung in 2014. Their operations were soon suspended due to local people’s opposition, but earlier this year, they restarted work on the sites.

By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)

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WHAT IS THE UNFC DOING? http://english.panglong.org/2017/05/01/what-is-the-unfc-doing/ Mon, 01 May 2017 02:51:21 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16197 The UNFC has supposedly agreed in principle on its nine demands with Aung
San Suu Kyi’s peace team. Some members are even saying that they might
sign the NCA.

The problem with this is that agreeing “in principle” means nothing. It
means absolutely nothing! The nine points have to be IMPLEMENTED, which
will never happen, hence the UNFC members should never sign the NCA. Here
are the nine points.

1. Bilateral ceasefire agreement between the government-military and the
UNFC;
2. To build a federal union with result achieved from 21CPC;
3. Agreement of tripartite dialogue composition;
4. Drafting and promulgation of constitutional law based on the outcome of
21CPC;
5. Advance agreement on Military Codes of Conduct (CoC) and monitoring on
Terms of Reference (ToR);
6. Formation of military Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) with
representatives from government, EAOs and international figures acceptable
to both parties;
7. Formation of a neutral, enforcement tribunal for NCA involving domestic
and international law experts and judges that are acceptable to both
parties;
8. Developmental projects to be tackled according to Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI), in cooperation with the public and the
EAOs; and
9. Signing of the NCA after the above points are in agreement.

(Source: via Kachinland News, UNFC Statement – December 13, 2016)

Point 1 is to declare an actual on the ground ceasefire, which the
military dictatorship will never, ever do. What the hell is going on? Why
are the UNFC members acting like there is progress, when for the only
party that matters, the Tatmadaw, there is none? If they are just
“negotiating,” trying to be nice, that’s one thing. But the alliance
members should never sign anything until an agreement that truly protects
their peoples, the ethnic nationalities of Burma, is achieved.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Should Resign http://english.panglong.org/2017/04/17/aung-san-suu-kyi-should-resign/ http://english.panglong.org/2017/04/17/aung-san-suu-kyi-should-resign/#comments Mon, 17 Apr 2017 01:54:51 +0000 http://english.panglong.org/?p=16126 In her March 30, 2017 State of the Union speech, Aung San Suu Kyi
said:

“So, if you all think I am not good enough for our country and our people,
if someone or some organization can do better than us, we are ready to
step down.”

Fair enough. Suu Kyi has proven herself unfit to lead Burma, also known as
Myanmar, in countless ways, foremost among them:

She refuses to speak out against and otherwise work to end the crimes
against humanity perpetrated by the Burma Army and the Police against the
country’s ethnic minorities. These include at present the genocide of the
Rohingya in the West and the Civil War against the Kachin and other groups
in the North, and in prior years against the Shan, Karenni and Karen. She
has signaled her intention to block a United Nations investigation into
the atrocities being committed against the Rohingya.

She acts as an autocrat in her own right, ignoring advice from dedicated
civil society groups, and opposing protests by the public when they
attempt to protect their rights.

She has supported the military regime’s racial prejudices, including by
refusing to field Muslim candidates for Parliament under the National
League for Democracy banner.

She has helped business cronies of the regime, and taken donations from
them, at the same time failing to implement a program to reverse the
appalling poverty that the people of Burma endure.

Suu Kyi has been in power for a year, and some people are saying that she
should be given more time. But she has actually been a Member of
Parliament already for five years, and she has been a “pro-democracy”
leader for twenty-nine. What has she really done? Why has she refused to
use her voice to energize the people to oppose the generals? If she hasn’t
done anything strong and decisive in all this time, is there any reason to
expect that she, or Burma under her leadership, will change?

Aung San Suu Kyi should fulfill her pledge and step down from her
positions as State Counsellor, MP, and head of the NLD. She should retire
from the political scene. Burma needs new democratic leadership, now.

http://www.dictatorwatch.org/prsuukyiresign.html

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