UNA adds mem­bers, calls for end to Tat­madaw of­fen­sives in eth­nic ar­eas

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

THE United Na­tion­al­i­ties Al­liance de­manded an end to mil­i­tary of­fen­sives in Kachin, Shan and Kayin states’ eth­nic ar­eas at a sum­mit held on Oc­to­ber 15.

Un­rest in Rakhine State, the al­liance said, is dif­fer­ent in that it is a Union gov­ern­ment is­sue.

“If they con­tinue their of­fen­sives against the eth­nic ar­eas, peace will never be achieved,” said UNA sec­re­tary and Mon Na­tional Party cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Nai Soe Myint.

In the past two months, the Tat­madaw has launched at­tacks in Kachin, Shan and Kayin states, leav­ing thou­sands dis­placed or home­less, the al­liance said. Ear­lier this month, the mil­i­tary at­tacked the Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State (RCSS) and the Shan State Army, which signed the na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment (NCA), al­liance mem­bers said. The RCSS ac­cused the mil­i­tary of not honour­ing their end of the NCA.

“The mil­i­tary has used heavy weapons, like [high-cal­iber in­fantry guns] and [fighter jets],” Nai Soe Myint said. “The gov­ern­ment has yet to speak about the con­flict go­ing on in the eth­nic ar­eas and it has been two months. Lots of civil­ians are suf­fer­ing. It is not like a nor­mal of­fen­sive. This time, the con­flict in the eth­nic ar­eas is like a large civil war.”

The Chin League for Democ­racy, the Chin Pro­gres­sive Party, the Shan Ni and the North­ern Shan Eth­nic Sol­i­dar­ity Party, all of which asked to be mem­bers in late 2015, were ac­cepted into the UNA as mem­bers. The UNA, now made up of 15 par­ties, started as just four groups, rep­re­sent­ing Shan, Mon, Rakhine and Zomi peo­ple.

“On one side they [the Tat­madaw] are talk­ing about peace and on the other side they are talk­ing about fight­ing,” said the newly wel­comed Chin Pro­gres­sive Party’s gen­eral sec­re­tary Pu Shing Tun. “Armed eth­nic groups are not com­ing from other coun­tries. They live in their own ar­eas. If the Tat­madaw at­tacks the eth­nic armed groups’ ar­eas, they will be on the de­fen­sive. The first thing for the gov­ern­ment to do is de­clare its in­ten­tions of up­hold­ing a uni­lat­eral cease­fire.”

In Rakhine State, where re­cent vi­o­lence left nine of­fi­cers at three bor­der sta­tions dead and prompted a mil­i­tary back­lash on Ro­hingya com­mu­ni­ties, the UNA urged the gov­ern­ment to quell the un­rest, not­ing that they stand with the Rakhine peo­ple.

“Con­flict in Rakhine and other eth­nic ar­eas takes a dif­fer­ent form,” the al­liance an­nounced. “The gov­ern­ment should solve this Rakhine con­flict.”

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