Kachin parties object to ethnic minorities’ calls for separate state
KACHIN ethnic politicians have cracked down hard on an attempt by Lisu and Red Shan activists to call for their own state within Myanmar. In a statement issued on September 7, the Kachin Political Cooperation Committee announced its objections to the demand, which was voiced at the 21st-century Panglong Conference.
“We’re still struggling for our equal national rights. That kind of demand could split our unity. The Lisu, the Red Shan and other Kachin tribes live together in the Kachin land. First, we have to realise the promise of Panglong – then we can address other problems,” said Labya Jaw San Naw, a spokesperson for the Kachin Democratic Party.
The Kachin Political Cooperation Committee comprises the KDP, the Lhaovo National Unity and Development Party (LNUDP) and the Kachin State Democracy Party (KSDP).
“Before independence, just a few Lisu lived in the area. Afterward, Lisu from China arrived, and now the Lhaovo/Rawang and the Lisu populations are almost the same. We want to live together peacefully. When the Lisu asked for their own state, people criticised their demand,” said B Haung Zal, a spokesperson for the Lhaovo National Unity and Development Party.
Critics in Chipwe township, Kachin State, have pointed out that a 1955 electoral law that listed the Kachin ethnic groups does not include the Lisu.
“We will discuss the matter with the LNUDP and the Tai Leng Nationalities Development party,” said Labya Jaw San Naw.
“Resolving the multiple desires for statehood could be one of the major challenges when the time comes to try to build a federal union. Now it is time to discuss the foundation of the state. This is when we need to be united,” he added.
The KPCC statement expressed strong objections to the demand by the Lisu and the Red Shan, and stressed the need to find a political solution that reflected current realities.
The statement also called for a ceasefire between the Tatmadaw and the armed groups in advance of the next round of peace talks.