Pre-Pan­g­long Mon meet-up aims to for­tify eth­nic sol­i­dar­ity

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

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.

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