A peace dialogue was held with eight ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) at the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre-NRPC in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
NRPC Vice Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win delivered a speech at this meeting. He said the first aim of the Union Government was to end armed conflicts on the path to establish a democratic federal Union. He added that the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement – NCA was not just a part of the peace process but also the first step towards establishing the democratic federal Union.
EAO participation taken seriously
Since political dialogue was based on the NCA, they were carefully trying to include EAOs who were non-signatories as well, said Dr. Tin Myo Win. He said non-signatories have been invited to revaluate the political dialogue framework in light of this. In addition, both EAO signatories and non-signatories have been included in the Joint Coordination Body (JCB) for Peace Process Funding. He said they had opened the door for participation to the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong since its first session. Hecontinued, these actions meant to impart ownership to the peace process over to the non-signatories of the NCA, and were conducted in seriousness.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said the Peace Commission had met with MNTJP, PSLF, and ULA in Kunming, China, on 12 December 2018. He said that during that meeting, all three groups agreed to first halt military activities to pave the road towards peace. They also expressed their desire to employ political methods as opposed to military methods and agreed to participate in the national reconciliation and peace process.
Tatmadaw takes constructive measures
The Tatmadaw also announced their ‘ceasefire and eternal peace’ announcement on 12 December 2018. The truce will be effective for four months in many conflict areas and will end on 30 April 2019. The Tatmadaw’s gesture aims to help EAOs hold peace talks with the NRPC and the Tatmadaw’s negotiation team will participate if necessary.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said many organizations announced their approval for the Tatmadaw’s announcement and the truce has helped to set up this meeting. He said everyone must accept that using military means has never resolved any of the country’s issues. He said the root causes of all armed conflicts are political issues and failing to resolve them will keep the cycle of armed conflicts in perpetual motion.
Fundamental principles require inclusivity to be complete
Dr. Tin Myo Win said everyone has accepted the belief that establishing a democratic federal Union, based on mutually agreed upon fundamentals, is the answer to resolving our political issues. He said we must work together to develop the type of federal system we will be establishing and this is why the modern Panglong conference is being held.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said the 21st Century Panglong has convened three times during the NLD government administration and has agreed on 51 fundamental democratic federal principles. However, since there are still EAOs who have not signed the NCA, the principles still have some requirements to them. He said if all the EAO non-signatories participate then the much-anticipated political conference will emerge. He explained his hope for all EAOs to eventually participate in the 21st Century Panglong in unison.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said the Union Government is working towards having all the EAOs in attendance sign the NCA and participate in political dialogue while halting all armed conflicts. He said the Union Government is intends to hold the political dialogues to produce agreements based on a democratic federal Union so as to achieve Union peace. He said the government and Tatmadaw have accepted and agreed to establish a democratic federal Union. The political dialogues will then decide what form the federal system will take.
Armed conflicts are not the answer
Dr. Tin Myo Win explained that the conflicts in Rakhine State are not associated with which groups will be accepted and which will be not. He said Rakhine State is designated as a white area and the government has taken appropriate security measures to prevent armed groups from establishing their bases there. He said it is important to understand this fact.
He said we must reflect upon the 70-years of internal armed conflicts and look to the current situation of the Rakhine people to see that it is crucial to take things to the political discussion table rather than demanding rights through use of arms.
The government and Tatmadaw always have the door to peace open to join in the NCA path and the peace process, said Dr. Tin Myo Win. He said the NCA is not an end result but the first step to engaging in political dialogue. He said EAO non-signatories are encouraged to voice their worries and challenges regarding the NCA.
He said holding a face-to-face meeting like this used to be a fanciful notion but has now become a reality. He urged everyone to have mutual respect and trust towards each other as we negotiate for solutions to achieve lasting peace and for ways to include everyone in the peace process.
The actual discussions commence
Next, leaders and representatives of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Mongla’s Eastern Shan State Peace and Solidarity Committee (PSC), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), Kokang’s Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party (MNTJP), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), United League of Arakan (ULA), and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) discussed future tasks for the peace process by group.
The NRPC and EAOs then discussed the role of NCA-NS EAOs in the pre-2020 and post-2020 periods, development affairs, regional residents’ affairs, holding separate meetings with the Tatmadaw, issuing agreements, and other general matters.
NRPC Vice Chair’s closing speech
Dr. Tin Myo Win then delivered the closing speech. He said it is a historical day for the NRPC and the 8 NCA-NS EAOs to hold their first meeting. He said the meeting between the government, Tatmadaw, NRPC and leaders of the 8 NCA-NS EAOs can reduce the number of armed conflicts, and this will in turn reduce the fear and losses the people are suffering from.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said he believes good or bad luck are a person’s own treasures. He said how much the suffering and fear of yourself, your environment and the people are reduced is an answer. He said if there is goodwill there will be good luck and it is important to have the desire to practice goodwill. He said if we truly want peace then our peace process will be successful.
Dr. Tin Myo Win said he believes holding meetings between the government, Tatmadaw, NRPC and the 8 NCA-NS EAOs is the best path to seeking solutions for peace. He said we need to find an answer that bring about decision-making. He said these meetings should be held at least once every two months and if the results make improvements then they should become the basis for discussion concerning our respective state or region’s residents.
List of meeting participants
NRPC members Union Attorney-General U TunTunOo, Lt-Gen YarPyae, Lt-Gen Min Naung, secretary Deputy Minister U Khin Maung Tin, Peace Commission Vice Chairman U Thein Zaw, secretary Lt-Gen (retired) U Khin Zaw Oo, member Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Aung Soe, support group member U Moe Zaw Oo, Director-General U Zaw Htay of the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor, and the leaders and representatives of the United Wa State Party (UWSP), Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Mongla’s Eastern Shan State Peace and Solidarity Committee (PSC), Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP), Kokang’s Myanmar National Truth and Justice Party (MNTJP), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), United League of Arakan (ULA), and Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).
(Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)