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Eth­nic Seminar

The NCCT Law Khee Lah Eth­nic Sum­mit from the 2 – 9 June dom­i­nated the news and opened with an op­ti­mistic speech by KNU Chair­man Mutu Say Po. The sum­mit, nom­i­nally or­gan­ised to dis­cuss the NCCT’s Na­tion­wide Ceasefire Agr­re­ment (NCA) draft, was ex­tended to al­low for fur­ther dis­cus­sion.

At the be­gin­ning of the event three par­tic­i­pants, the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army (MNDAA), the Ta-ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (TNLA), and the Arakan Army (AA), said they would re­sign as mem­bers of the Na­tion­wide Ceasefire Co­or­di­na­tion Team (NCCT).

All three groups have been en­gaged in fierce fight­ing with gov­ern­ment forces in the Kokang re­gion, next to the Myan­mar-China bor­der, in re­cent months.

Ac­cord­ing to media re­ports, the MNDAA rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­di­cated that the group was look­ing to quit the NCCT as its lead­ers in the Kokang re­gion feel dis- con­tented with the bloc’s un­der­tak­ings in the on­go­ing peace process. The AA also ex­pressed the view that the NCCT’s ne­go­ti­a­tions with Naypyi­daw in ar­rang­ing a na­tion­wide ceasefire agree­ment (NCA) have not been in­clu­sive.

On the sec­ond day, the tone was some­one more som­bre as N’Ban La, joint chair­man of the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), be­gan his open­ing speech he urged other mem­bers of the NCCT to ab­stain from the agree­ment un­til all mem­bers were in­cluded. He fur­ther warned other lead­ers to be much more scep­ti­cal of Pres­i­dent Thein Sein’s com­mit­ment to es­tab­lish­ing a fed­eral sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, one of the key de­mands of eth­nic lead­ers na­tion­wide. N’Ban La’s speech was de­scribed by one com­men­ta­tor as deal­ing a dose of re­al­ity, although whose re­al­ity is un­clear.

Ei­ther way the meet­ing con­cluded with 15 amend­ments to be made to the NCA and a new com­mit­tee be­ing formed to ne­go­ti­ate the amend­ments with the Gov­ern­ment and the three groups re­con­sid­er­ing their


The Restora­tion Coun­cil of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), led by Yawd Serk, which was not present at the meet­ing and is not a mem­ber of the NCCT, had is­sued a state­ment ex­press­ing ‘welcome and sup­port’ for the sign­ing of the Na­tion­wide Ceasefire Agree­ment (NCA). The group had met with U Aung Min of the Gov­ern­ment Union Peace­mak­ing Work Com­mit­tee (UPWC) del­e­ga­tion in Chi­ang Mai on 29 May.

In ad­di­tion, U Aung Min, ac­cord­ing to SHAN, ap­par­ently told rep­re­sen­ta­tives that ‘The draft is not per­fect . . . But for all of its im­per­fec­tions, it has 4 solid guar­an­tees

- No dis­ar­ma­ment as long as the peace process lasts - Fed­er­al­ism - Ex­emp­tion from Sec­tion 17/1 (Un­law­ful As­so­ci­a­tion Act)

- Po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue’


Else­where, the Unity Com­mit­tee for Karen armed groups held a spe­cial meet­ing to dis­cuss the man­age­ment of the toll­gates on the Myawaddy-Kawkareik sec­tion of the Asia high­way in Karen or Kayin State lo­cal media re­ported. Ap­par­ently, there are a to­tal of eight toll­gates, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment’s and the armed groups – KNU, DKBA, KNU/KNLA (PC) and all Karen groups have agreed to work to­gether on col­lect­ing the tolls.

IDP sup­port

On Satur­day 6 June an event, or­gan­ised by Kachin youths, was held in Yan­gon to re­mem­ber the start of the re­newed con­flict in Kachin State. The event, ‘Con­cern, Care and Con­trib­ute to the IDPs Now,’ was held to sup­port the hun­dred thou­sand or more in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple who have had to flee their homes be­cause of the fight­ing there.


In Mon State, vil­lagers were al­lowed to re­turn to a for­est in Kawsar Sub-Town­ship in South­ern Ye Town­ship. Lo­cal Mon media re­ported on the 8 June that In­fantry Bat­tal­ion (IB) 31, based near Kawsar Town, gave an or­der to lo­cals in Kawsar Sub-town­ship on 18 May that no one was al­lowed to set foot in the for­est. As a re­sult, the lo­cals strug­gled, as they could not work in their or­chards and fields. The rea­son given by IB 31 for ban­ning peo­ple from en­ter­ing the for­est was that the Nai Pin and Mon Chan armed groups were at­tempt­ing to ex­tort lo­cal peo­ple in the area.


Also in Mon State, a re­port re­leased by the Woman and Child Rights Pro­ject (WCRP) on 2 June stated that poverty is a lead­ing cause in stu­dent dropouts across ru­ral Mon schools in south­ern Myan­mar. The re­port ti­tled “In­ac­ces­si­ble and Un­der-Re­sourced: Con­cerns over Ed­u­ca­tion in Ru­ral Mon Com­mu­ni­ties” draws on in­ter­views with 146 in­di­vid­u­als, con­ducted by the WCRP in 17 vil­lages in Ye, Kyarinn­seikkyi and Ye­byu town­ships in south­ern Myan­mar.

The WCRP’s re­port in­cluded find­ings con­cerned with ed­u­ca­tion at three pri­mary schools un­der the con­trol of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, ten schools run by the Mon Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee (MNEC) and ten mixed schools run by both but with a greater in­flu­ence from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The re­port also gave rea­sons why chil­dren dropout of school. These in­cluded the dis­tance needed to travel to at­tend class, an obli­ga­tion to help with house­work, and en­coun­ter­ing prob­lems while study­ing.

Although the stu­dent to teacher ra­tio var­ied across the schools, ul­ti­mately, there was a lack of teach­ers with some classes’ num­bers hov­er­ing around 35 stu­dents per teacher. Whilst the ra­tios were not ex­ces­sively high, there are con­cerns over the train­ing teach­ers re­ceive be­fore en­ter­ing the class­room with re­gards to han­dling a class and teach­ing ef­fec­tively.


Nar­cotics in Shan State were one more in the spotlight with the re­lease of a new re­port by the Am­s­ter­dam-based Transna­tional In­sti­tute’s Drugs and Democ­racy Pro­gramme. The re­port notes that the on­go­ing peace process raises hope for more ef­fec­tive drug poli­cies and that, “Af­ter decades of civil war, few of the con­flict ac­tors, in­clud­ing the Myan­mar army, can claim to have clean hands,” it says: “TNI re­search in Shan State, for in­stance, found that all par­ties in the con­flict—in­clud­ing Tat­madaw units—taxed opium farm­ers.”

It also notes, the Tat­madaw pol­icy of pri­ori­tis­ing se­cu­rity over drug-re­lated con­cerns has al­lowed crim­i­nal groups and drug syn­di­cates to op­er­ate freely es­pe­cially in ar­eas con­trolled by the pro-gov­ern­ment mili­tias.

Kachin woman and her chil­dren walk pass at the Je Yang Camp in Laiza, Kachin State Nyein Chan Naing EPA

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