The National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government has yet to reply to a proposed meeting with a Wa-led political negotiation committee to discuss their participation in the country’s peace process, vice chairman of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) Brig-Gen Tarr Jode Jarr said in an interview with The Irrawaddy.
The Wa-led committee is formed of seven ethnic armed groups based in northern Burma and along the China-Burma border—the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-North), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), and the Arakan Army (AA).
It was formed at the fourth Panghsang Summit hosted by the UWSA in April. All members have rejected signing the government’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). The Burma Army has said it would not hold talks with the MNDAA, TNLA, and AA, unless they disarmed first.
China’s Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang met with representatives of the UWSA, the KIA, the MNDAA, the TNLA and the AA in Kunming of China’s Yunnan Province on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Irrawaddy’s Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint spoke to vice chairman of the TNLA Brig-Gen Tarr Jode Jarr about the meeting with Sun Guoxiang.
What was the discussion with Sun Guoxiang about?
He wanted to know about the papers we submitted to the fourth Panghsang summit. We didn’t talk much because we feel the political path is almost at an end now. If the government doesn’t accept the agreements we reached at the Panghsang Summit, the political path is finished. So, we asked him [Sun Guoxiang] to help start political negotiations.
The government’s peace commission said on May 6 that it would meet the Northern Alliance, but only about the NCA. Also, the Burma Army refuses to change its stance regarding three members of the Northern Alliance [MNDAA, TNLA and AA].
Did you talk about these issues with Sun Guoxiang?
No, we barely discussed it because the NCA doesn’t work. He [Sun Guoxiang] urged us to meet the government and the military. And we are willing to meet them if they invite us as a whole group—all seven members. But we won’t meet them if they invite us separately.
Is the Burma Amy not willing to meet the Northern Alliance together with the UWSA?
We [MNDAA, TNLA and AA] met with government peace negotiator Dr. Tin Myo Win once. But, as I’ve said, we will only meet with the government when they invite all seven members. This is what we agreed at the Panghsang Summit.
Did you tell Sun Guoxiang that political dialogue is over if the government does not meet all seven members collectively?
Yes. But he urged us to meet [with the government]. The government wants to meet us separately, but we only want to meet as a group. The military has always met ethnic groups separately in order to prevent them from uniting. It is their tactic. It is quite obvious. Sun Guoxiang said he would try to help.
What does Sun Gunxiang think about the recent Panghsang Summit agreement?
He has not read it thoroughly. We have read it to him, and he said he would review it but that he was surprised by some parts [of our policy]. He, however, thought the points would contribute to the peace process and he said he would properly explain them to the government.
What has your meeting with Sun Guoxiang contributed to the peace process?
We expect that he will convey our feelings and our stance to the government and the military so that they can better understand us.