October 16, 2016

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Greetings of Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the first anniversary of the NCA

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Today the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement—NCA reached its first anniversary. The NCA was signed by the Government of the Republic of Union of Myanmar and armed ethnic groups with the aim of restoring a durable eternal peace through all-inclusive political dialogues. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to extend greetings on this auspicious occasion. At the same time, I wish all the participants and the entire national brethren peace and tranquillity.
Our country faced bitter experiences of the colonial administrative machinery, and when we regained independence the country was in chaos alongside the internal disagreements which indeed was the evil legacy of colonialism. Of the peace processes carried out all along the successive periods since the regaining of independence, the NCA, which marks the first anniversary ceremony at present, in fact is the first ever accord signed by a greater number of multiple organizations and forces and international representatives. I would like to thank the organizations to carefully abide by and implement the NCA which was hardly signed. It is visible that the process of the NCA has successfully accomplished without any difficulties due to solving the misunderstanding cases at the basic level. I would like to suggest we need to carry on the tasks to have better situation.
The most basic and the principle requirement for the durability and success of people-aspired multiparty democracy we are exercising at present is peace and stability. The previous Tatmadaw government in laying sound foundations for multiparty democracy also prioritized the work of ending armed conflicts. Motivated by the conviction that the internal peace process was indivisible with and parallel to the reforms, the government elected for the first term of the multiparty democracy administration in 2011 endeavoured with might and main to terminate ethnic armed conflicts.
A new chapter was opened on 18 August 2011 by inviting all the armed ethnic groups to the peace talks. It took more than four years to reach the NCA signed on 15 October 2015 from the said date. With the genuine desire for peace and with much patience and tolerance, negotiations were made again and again till mutual understanding and trust could be built and accords reached between individuals and between groups.
All ethnic armed groups included in the NCA process have agreed to the fact that the 70-year-long internal armed conflict is a political issue which has to be solved through political dialogues. As a first step of the peacemaking process, the Tatmadaw made respective state-level ceasefire agreements with ethnic armed groups. Secondly, the union-level ceasefire agreements were made. In short, the step-by-step peace-making process was implemented. On 8 March, 2014, the Union Peacemaking Work Committee and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team held a first-ever coordination meeting. On 8 April, 2014, the NCA Single Text was drafted by compiling the discussions from both sides. The draft NCA was written on 31 March, 2015 and finalized on 7 August, 2015. What I am saying aims to remember how we did not make strenuous efforts for the peace process hastily and overcame difficulties we faced through united and collaborative efforts and to be strength for the future peace-making processes.
The NCA was drafted through a series of discussions between the Union Peace-making Work Committee and representatives from ethnic armed groups. The NCA was drafted only after all participants reached a detailed agreement on each chapter, section, paragraph and wording. Under various circumstances, some organizations included in the NCA drafting process were not ready to sign the NCA. Primarily some groups signed the NCA.
So, we are trying for the participation of all the non-signatories. The door is still opened and they are always welcomed. As the foundation of the peace process was laid on the facts negotiated and agreed by them, their aspiration can be reflected through their participation in the process. The agreements contained in the NCA are broader than the term “ceasefire”. It can obviously be seen that the chapter 1 and chapter 5 of the NCA describe “Our Three Main National Causes”, which are the country’s national needs and interests, twice.
Our country is a Union which has been formed since yore. Any regions and states in the Union are home to all ethnics, not for a single ethnic specifically. For example, more than 1.6 million of population are living in Kachin State with 29.2 percent of Bamar, 23.6 percent of Shan, 18.97 percent of Jaingphaw, 7 percent of Lisu, 5.5 percent of Rawam, 3.33 percent of Lawwaw, 2.89 percent of Lacheik, 1.57 percent of Zaikwa, and 8 percent of other ethnics in population ratios in line with the census enumerated in 2014.
Kayah State has a population of over 260,000 in which Kayah accounts for 59.45 percent, Shan 16.05 percent, Bamar 15.44 percent, Kayin 7.04 percent, other ethnics 2.02 percent. More than 5.8 million of population are scattering in Shan State with 35.23 percent of Shan, 11.44 percent of Bamar, 8.94 percent of Pa-O, 7.06 percent of Palaung, 6.41 percent of “Wa”, 4.46 per cent of Danu, 3.22 percent of Kokang, 4.05 percent of Lahu, 2.35 percent of Jaingphaw and 16.84 percent of other ethnics. There are eight major tribes but over 130 ethnics are living in our country. Some ethnics have larger number of population but some are lesser number of population. Although there are differences in the size of states, population and demographic patterns, all the ethnic peoples are enjoying equal rights and anyone is not favoured. Democracy is a system in which the majority wish is observed under the law and the minority wish respected. So, it can be seen that equal rights of power is shared to respective regions and states under the Schedule Two of the Region or State Hluttaw Legislative List prescribed in Section 188 of the State Constitution (2008) as well as Schedule Three for Self-Administered Zones. All these are based on federal system. To be able to fully enjoy rights of power and opportunities, ethnics must carry out legislative processes through different levels of Hluttaw. It means democracy practice.
I would like to say the attempts to grasp the opportunities through armed struggle line by turning a blind eye to the actual rights and opportunities is opposition to the people’s desire. The principle duty of the Tatmadaw is to defend the State. Defending the State is to take security measures for the country and to protect the people, life and property of the people and the people’s desire which is in line with the law. So, I would like to reveal the Tatmadaw will surely prevent all attempts opposing the people’s desire and exerting pressures of the people under various reasons by standing on the public issue.
Peace process will be stable and secure only when it is implemented systematically step by step. Politics is the Art of Possible, but not about wishes. In implementing the peace process, only when we focus on possible and pragmatic things rather our wishes, will we be able to achieve permanent peace which we eye for in certain period of time. Peace and stability is precondition for establishment of a genuine democracy. For our country to obtain peace and stability, ethnic armed conflicts must be ended. It needs to carry out the processes to bring ethnic armed conflicts to an end in line with the international procedures. The NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement) is the initial step of processes. The meetings and negotiations without the ceasefire would be for sure filled with mistrust, doubts, and the tendency to take up arms again in the face of some small difficulties. As we built trust in making peace process based on honesty of ethnics, it is important for further cementing the process and maintaining the pledge.
Therefore, if we accept democracy, we need to abandon the obsession to the armed struggle line which is the opposition of democracy. For this to happen, we have the NCA which has been agreed by many forces. The NCA clearly states ceasefire process and future plans.
Therefore, the Tatmadaw has adopted and upholds six-point peace policy in its strenuous efforts for building true, permanent peace. The six-point peace policy is the ‘awareness’ of the Tatmadaw from its historic experiences of peace struggle in successive periods while it is also the ‘reality’ to strengthen the peace building process. The six-point peace policy of Tatmadaw and the NCA pave way to peace from armed path and from peace to a genuine democratic Union based on the federal system as well. It is also the answer to serve the interest of the people and Union without presenting any trouble to any force. Therefore, the Tatmadaw call for respecting six-point peace policy and urge the ethnic armed groups to sign the NCA.
Signing the NCA will bring many benefits, already proven by such things as clashes have ended and peace has prevailed in the regions of signatories and local people can earn their livelihood safely while trust has grown between the forces of two sides. Therefore, I would like to urge the non-signatories to follow the good example.
In marching toward multiparty democracy which people aspire, it is important that we take steps in line with democratic practices. The solutions to demands of respective organizations must be found through dialogue and negotiation. And the door has been kept open for this. Turning a blind eye to those open doors and making demands out of a gun barrel is just the reverse of democracy. These demands cause damage to the peace process and push the country into vicious circle. So, I would like to note that relevant organizations need to carefully assess these demands.
The government elected by the people in 2015 has been giving priority to implementing internal peace building process on a wider scale. On August 31 this year, Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong was held and wishes of respective forces could be discussed, making the process transparent to the people across the country. The strength of the nation lies within. And it could also present the fundamental principle that peace process would be continued based on the NCA. However, if it takes a long time for implementing the peace processes, people will face loss of life and property as well as the State will be lagged behind development. As such, it needs to complete the Peace Conference through signing the NCA as quickly as possible by serving the interest of the State and the ethnics.
In conclusion, the NCA is not the standpoint of the government or the Tatmadaw alone or of a particular ethnic armed group, but is the outcome of the negotiations between the government and ethnic armed groups about the State’s demands. It should not try for heading towards the national level meetings beyond the NCA issues without signing the NCA. History will witness what we did, which policy we upheld and how peace was built. I would like to conclude here by calling for joining and continued implementation of the NCA to set an example to future generations as the persons who had built peaceful and strong Union. Thank you!( From Senior General Min Aung Hlaing Facebook)


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