Ceasefire Monitoring Committee Criticized as ABSDF Member Awaits Sentencing

By Nyein Nyein 7 July 2017

YANGON — More than six months after the arrest of U Min Htay, a central committee member of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), a court will soon decide whether he is charged under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act. The government’s joint ceasefire monitoring committee (JMC) faces criticism for not intervening sooner.

On July 10, the head of the Momauk police station, the last of 10 witnesses for the plaintiff, will give his statement to the court, which the ABSDF hopes will conclude the case.

On Dec. 29, 2016, a day after his arrest in Kachin State, ABSDF leaders sent a letter to the Union-level Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, calling for its chairman Lt-Gen Yar Pyae to intervene in the case.

But it remains unresolved, despite sharing the request with the State Counselor, the Myanmar Army and the JMC.

On July 5, Dr. Sui Khar, a secretary of the JMC, which is tasked to intervene in disputes between NCA signatory groups, told reporters in Yangon at a press conference that “the ABSDF had not had sent any letter of complaint to the JMC and the group had been dealing directly with the government regarding the issue.”

ABSDF members said a letter was sent to the State Counselor on Dec. 30, and that two letters were sent to the JMC.

The JMC secretary’s comment sparked criticism of the JMC’s role in solving disputes between the NCA signatories, as it is obliged to do.

The JMC has stated that it would develop a computerized complaint management system, as so far the majority of the complaints it receives are verbal.

ABSDF leaders said the letters sent to the JMC dated Dec. 29 and Jan. 3 asking for help with the issue were formal complaint letters.

“What kind of complaint letter do they want the ABSDF to send?” asked U Salai Yaw Aung, a central leading committee member of the ABSDF and a JMC member.

Myanmar Army troops arrested U Min Htay and then informed the ABSDF that he had been arrested on suspicion of helping the Kachin Independence Army. U Min Htay’s home was in the KIA-controlled territory, which he says gave the army an excuse to go after him.

U Salai Yaw Aung said the ABSDF had responded to the accusations through the JMC in the January letter.

The Myanmar Army overstepped the necessary process and the JMC seems incapable of helping NCA signatories, said ABSDF members. ABSDF representatives in the JMC brought this case up in meetings as well as in direct discussions with the JMC chair, they added.

Myanmar Army representatives said the ABSDF needed to submit an appeal letter as the case was carried out under the instruction of armed forces chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, according to U Salai Yaw Aung.

Whether U Min Htay’s case is dismissed is totally dependent on Myanmar Army leaders and whether they close the case, he said.