Minister, Ethnic Leaders to Hold Ceasefire Talks in Chiang Mai

Myanmar, ceasefire, peace process, Karen, Kachin, ethnic conflict

The government’s chief peace negotiator Aung Min during an interview at the MPC in Rangoon. (Photo: Nyein Nyein / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Burmese government peace negotiator Aung Min said he will meet with ethnic rebel leaders in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, from Friday to Sunday to hold further talks on drafting a nationwide ceasefire agreement.

President Office’s Minister Aung Min said he would meet with the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), comprising 14 ethnic leaders, in order to discuss the draft nationwide ceasefire accord, adding that both sides would compare their proposals for such an agreement.

“Our drafts of the [nationwide ceasefire accord], both by the NCCT and government, are in about 80 percent agreement. But we still need to discuss the remaining issues,” Aung Min told The Irrawaddy during an interview at the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC), a government body which the minister oversees.

Aung Min, Immigration Minister Khin Ye and the MPC technical team will travel to Chiang Mai on Thursday. The minister said the results of this week’s negotiations will be discussed in the cabinet in order to prepare for a January meeting to finalize the nationwide accord with the armed groups.

Following such an agreement, the minister said, a nationwide ceasefire could be signed at an official ceremony in the capital Naypyidaw in February.

“This [nationwide ceasefire accord] will be a historic agreement like the Panglong agreement,” Aung Min said. “It would be an agreement with greater inclusiveness than Panglong, so we try to make sure we have as few mistakes as possible.”

The ethnic leaders and Burma’s independence hero, Gen Aung San, signed the so-called Panglong agreement in February 1947. The agreement ensured equal rights and political autonomy for Burma’s ethnic minorities. Soon after signing, however, Burma descended into civil war and the Burma Army has sought to control the ethnic regions since.

President Thein Sein’s reformist government is keen to sign a nationwide ceasefire in order to show the international community that it is ending Burma’s long-festering ethnic conflicts. It has repeatedly announced that an agreement is near, but so far an agreement has remained elusive.

Long-time observers of Burma’s ethnic conflict, such as veteran journalist Bertil Lintner, have said that the government and ethnic armed groups are still far apart on numerous issues.

Aung Min held high-level talks with ethnic leaders in early November in Myitkyina, Kachin State, but the sides failed to reach agreement over a nationwide ceasefire.

Ethnic armed groups met among themselves in the Kachin rebel stronghold of Laiza in October to take a unified position in the peace talks and the groups formed the NCCT.

Aung Min had planned to hold further high-level talks with the NCCT in December in the Karen State capital Hpa-an, but the negotiations were repeatedly postponed and will now take place on Jan. 24, 2014 according to Hla Maung Shwe, a special adviser to the MPC.

The armed ethnic leaders planned to meet in Karen National Union-controlled territory of Lay Wah on Jan. 20 to again take a joint position on the nationwide ceasefire.

The NCCT led by Nai Hong Sar, who is also vice chairman of the New Mon State Party and secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council, already held several smaller meetings with its members in November and December to discuss the draft nationwide ceasefire.

6 Responses to Minister, Ethnic Leaders to Hold Ceasefire Talks in Chiang Mai

  1. This man is one of a few I trust in this regime. With much difficulties imposing on him from both sides, he is tirelessly working for future generations of Burmese people. He will be registered in history as one of the greatest sons of Burma land.

  2. “The ethnic leaders and Burma’s independence hero, Gen Aung San, signed the so-called Panglong agreement in February 1947. The agreement ensured equal rights and political autonomy for Burma’s ethnic minorities. Soon after signing, however, Burma descended into civil war and the Burma Army has sought to control the ethnic regions since.”

    That’s an interesting re-write of history.

  3. Sincerity lacks in every attempt of peace talk in the time of Thein Sein. Because, the beast Than Shwe is still pulling the strings. Panglong Agreement was the outcome of Aung San’s sincere heart and ambition. USDP is dragging its feet for two long years.

  4. Some translations:

    “the so-called Panglong agreement”:
    The expression ‘so called’ carries with it the implication that it is not worthy of the name. You should remember that the original document is headed “THE PANGLONG AGREEMENT, 1947” and is signed by the be-sainted Aung San on behalf of the ‘Burmese Government’.

    “Soon after signing”:
    Does soon mean one week, one month, one year or perhaps ten years?

    “Burma descended into civil war”:
    Really? What actually happened is that the Burmese Army felt able to murder, rape and pillage throughout the ethnic regions.

    “the Burma Army has sought to control the ethnic regions since”:
    The majority Burman, using the army, has sought to subjugate the ethnics ever since.

    Let’s be honest about this.

  5. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U.1976

    Upon Careful Review of your Article , I’m still doubting that This Peace Negotiation of drafting a Nationwide Ceasefire of Agreement would succeed. Although I know not, Negotiator U Aung Min , but I truly respect his Intention & Goal .
    U Aung Min’s Negotiation with his Free Will without Interfereing from the Top Brass might be fine. On the Negotiation Table both sides must have Sincerities/ Honest for the Good of the People. If both sides are not Sincere, just looking the Benefits of their Opportunities , it’s better Not to do the Negotiation at all.
    Reason was , Ethnic Kachin , Karen , Mon , Palaung Etc. were running, hiding without ending. Even , Some went running to the Border being Crushed, Pushed or Killed from the Merciless, Moneymongers from the other side.
    Although these Burmese Citizens dearly loved their Motherland they left sorrowfully to third Countries , Not to be Blamed. Hundreds & Thousands of them are now struggling their life Working as Labor Workers at Meat Plants ( Pork, Beef, Turkey, Chicken Eggs ) though they were Farmers, Gardeners in their Homeland. Once in a while they spoke about their Memoirs , Even crying. I honestly assumed that this is A Huge Consequences of the Civil War, Dictatorship of Ne Win, Saw Maung, Than Shwe , Khin Nyunt’s Regimes . Superiority upon minorities. And as long as the Present Regime is holding the Power Selfishly the People would still suffer Tremendously.

  6. Please do not hate the Burmans as we all are victims the same during the sad era of the country under the evil Ne Win’s & Than Shwe’s regimes.

    I am a Burman. I am genuinely sad to see the Burmans now populating ethnic cities like Lashio, Taunggyi, Tachileik, Moulmein, etc., unknowingly dislodging the local ethnic people. But those Burmans have no ethnic agenda, as you seemed to perceive. They are just poor economic migrants. Our central lands (AhNyar areas) are much poorer. The people there happen to find those ethnic area cities much more prosperous; choose to move to there (and from there to foreign lands like Thailand or Malaysia) mostly to become odd-job labourers making an honest living generally. I can tell you hearing never-ending sad stories of those migrants most at the hands of the facist Burmese army & underworld people smugglers whenever I visit my village, largely deserted by young adults nowadays. I fully empathize with the ethnic people for their sufferings. But we Burmans also bear the same sufferings under these same evil regimes, if not more. Our AhNyar areas are no longer like what you used to hear in Than Tun Lay’s songs over the loud speakers.

    Within the country, as long as you are a citizen, everyone can move anywhere he likes. You may choose to settle in Rangoon or Mandalay or even in my village if you wish. Baring the harm imposed by the army and the regimes, there will always be minor social clashes in a day-to-day, people-to-people level. You will experience it everywhere, even in a great land called USA, the most just and fairest society for humankind at the moment.

    It is a well-known fact that Aung San allegedly kill an innocent Karen village headman while marching into Burma with newly-founded BIA alongside the Japanese Imperial army in 1942. That was the very reason Karens never became a signatory to the Panglong Aggrement spearheaded by Aung San. He was seen as an angel by many Burmese but as a murderer by many Karens. I am sure Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself is aware of that when she specifically commented to reflect the facts in preparing Aung San biography movie being organized by some film industry professionals lately.

    There are always bad potatoes in every society, every group but not everyone in there is bad.

    Let’s just look for a day when we can say a crook a crook, an angel an angel, see the facts of history as they were, learn the lessons not to repeat the same mistakes and educate the young to become a better society. I am sure we also can become a mature society like European Union one day when everything under the sun can be discussed including becoming the separate entities if it is mutually agreed to be a better arrangement. Until then, please do not hate the Burmans as a whole since that sort of mindset will bring us to nowhere and we will all be trapped in a vicious circle forever.

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