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