The National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) and a delegation from the Kachin Humanitarian Concern Committee (KHCC), led by its chairperson, held a meeting at the NRPC building in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
On the NRPC side were its members, Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, Lt-Gen Min Naung, secretary Deputy Minister U Khin Maung Tin, Peace Commission secretary Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo (retired), Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, members of the Kachin State cabinet, Director-General U Zaw Htay and other officials.
On the KHCC side were Chairperson Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, Vice Chairperson 1 Father Paul Awng Dang, Vice Chairperson 2 Father Dr. Peter Khar Aung Too, Vice Chairperson 3 Rev. Kyanmajar Too Shan, secretary Rev. Paul Yaung Too Mai, deputy secretary 1 Father Noel Nawlat, deputy secretary 2 Rev. Maji Bauklar, deputy secretary 3 U Paul Remkali, members U Inshan San Aung, advisor Daw L Jar Nan and other officials.
The Union Attorney-General first delivered a speech. He said the NRPC has been continuing its mission of persuading ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) who have not signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) to do so and to provide humanitarian aid to displaced persons. He said this meeting would discuss how to ensure displaced persons in Kachin State to return to their homes safely and with dignity, addressing humanitarian needs in IDP centres, and closing down IDP centres.
The Union Attorney-General said these matters must be given priority as part of the peace process. He said the NRPC facilitated the systematic return of people in IDP centres which allowed trust to be built with the KIO and KIA in informal talks.
He highlighted the fact that the State Counsellor, who was also chairperson of the NRPC, discussed cooperation on the IDP matter between the Union Government and KHCC during her meeting with the KHCC Chairperson in Myitkyina.
He requested the other party to openly discuss how to safely resettle IDPs, closing down IDP centres, and suggestions on how the Union Government could provide support moving forward.
The KHCC Chairperson then delivered a speech.
KHCC Chairperson’s speech
In his speech, Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson expressed his belief that a good solution would emerge from officially discussing how to safely resettle people in IDP centres back to their homes.
He said everyone accepted that matters related to IDPs were intertwined with the peace process. He said local residents fleeing from internal armed conflicts were in search for safer places to live. He said the Kachin State and Northern Shan State have seen a resurgence of IDPs since the 2011 with about a hundred thousand people currently homeless.
The reverend said there were challenges and difficulties as the matter had lasted for eight years. He said the people strongly desired to return to their homes. He said the KHCC was formed with political leaders and humanitarian organizations on October 2017 to address the IDP issue.
He said they held discussions with relevant subnational governments and international organizations to return IDPs to their homes. He said the members of the KHCC were decision makers from their respective organizations and representatives of their religious associations. He said the committee’s processes were already included in the terms of reference.
The reverend said the IDP issue was inextricably linked to armed conflicts so it was important to reduce them and establish a measure of peace that can build trust with the IDPs. Doing so would resolve the matter of resettling them in a short time, he said. He prayed for the Union Government to succeed in swiftly implementing a democratic federal Union longed for by the ethnic people so that the internal conflicts that have been waging on for 60 to 70 years would finally end.
The two sides then discussed the NRPC’s contribution to the IDPs in Kachin State, helping IDPs return to their homes safely and with dignity, supplying current humanitarian aid to IDP centres, closing down IDP centres and other general matters.
KHCC Chairperson’s closing speech
In his closing speech, the KHCC Chairperson said this meeting was immensely beneficial. He said we are all brothers and sisters coexisting in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. He said now was an opportune moment to solidify trust with each other and it was important not to waste this chance. He said they wished to implement the first phase of returning IDPs after meeting with the KIA on 30 April.
He said he believed solving the resettlement issue would build more trust between everyone and impact later discussions on signing the NCA. He said they understood that the armed conflicts in Kachin State were a result of politics and thus the Kachin people also accepted that it must be addressed in a political manner. He expressed his gratitude for the chance to discuss freely under the NRPC’s lead and acquire basic principles.
UAG’s closing speech
In his closing speech, the Union Attorney-General said all relevant organizations were working hard to swiftly implement peace in Kachin State. He said resettling IDPs in Kachin State and closing temporary relief camps was a priority for everyone concerned. He said a ceasefire from both sides was essential to return the IDPs to their homes safely and with dignity.
And doing so would allow the people to live in their homes again with confidence, said the Union Attorney-General. He said the KHCC could only help IDPs when all fighting has ended. He said all relevant organizations need to provide humanitarian aid to ensure that the IDPs safely return to their homes. He added that this meeting was able to designate the tasks the NRPC and KHCC would pursue in the future.
Afterwards, the NRPC and KHCC delegations took a documentary photo together. Director-General U Zaw Htay and the KHCC Chairperson then met with journalists and answered their questions on the meeting.
Results of the meeting
The meeting produced 5 points of agreement. First, the NRPC and KHCC agreed that resettling IDPs back to their homes safely and with dignity, they will work in line with the NRPC’s policies based on international humanitarian policies with KHCC cooperating on the implantations.
Second, relevant government departments, organizations and stakeholders will support in ensuring smooth negotiations concerning the implementation of tasks for resettling IDPs.
Third, KHCC will provide necessary support and aid in providing food and clothing to IDPs, returning them home, resettling them, and enabling them to take up their former vocations.
Fourth, selecting IDP camps with high likelihood for returning and resettling IDPs and negotiating on pilot programs.
And fifth, the KHCC will take responsibility if negotiations with the KIO/KIA are necessary for returning and resettling IDPs. —MNA (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)