Pre-Panglong Mon meet-up aims to fortify ethnic solidarity
MON nationalists will gather ahead of the 21st-century Panglong Conference late this month in a bid to shore up ethnic solidarity among civil society organisations, the armed group and the political parties that champion the minority’s interests.
The summit is being spearheaded by the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the ethnic armed organisation, and will be held from August 22 to 25 in Kayin State’s Kya-in Seikkyi township.
U Naing Soe Myint, a central executive committee member of the Mon Democracy Party, confirmed that the meeting will be held next week, with about 250 participants expected.
“At the conference, we will focus on discussions about the upcoming 21stcentury Panglong [Conference]. We also aim to unite among Mon people and hope to get a resulting Mon nationality agreement, which will reflect the Mon people’s desires and problems,” U Naing
Soe Myint said.
Mon National Party central executive committee member Mi Nwe Nwe Lin said she was optimistic that participants in next week’s meeting would achieve positive outcomes for the Mon cause.
“I hope that the conference could bring together the main needs and voices of the Mon people to then present at the Union Peace Conference,” said Mi Nwe Nwe Lin, using an alternative name for the Panglong Conference.
While Mon civil society organisations have already held discussions ahead of the Panglong event – a separate forum will be held concurrent with the peace conference for CSOs from across the country – next week’s conference is intended to bring a broader range of Mon perspectives together.
One stakeholder that is opting out of the gathering, however, is the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), which last week decided not to attend out of concern that the presence of its members might land the party in legal hot water.
Contact with the NMSP, which controls Taung Pauk village where the meeting will take place, is technically illegal as the group is still listed as an “unlawful association” and subject to provisions of a law of the same name.
Enforcement of the law has been eased since the previous government began a concerted push to sign ceasefires with Myanmar’s many ethnic armed groups, but indictments under its provisions have still occurred in recent years.
The government last year removed eight non-state armed groups from its list of unlawful associations after they committed to a so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement, but the NMSP was among about a dozen ethnic armies that opted not to sign the accord or were denied the opportunity to do so.
AMRDP politicians in Ye and Chaungzone townships have urged the party to reconsider its decision not to join the conference in Kayin State, and have said that if its organisers invite them, they will attend.