CNF Set for Rangoon Peace Talks at Weekend

By Zarni Mann 3 December 2012

A delegation of the Chin National Front (CNF) ethnic armed group lead by Assistant General-Secretary 1 Paul Sitha is en route to Rangoon for a second round of Union-level peace talks with President’s Office Minister Aung Min.

According to a statement released by the CNF on Monday, the delegation will be joined by representatives from the Chin Human Rights Organization, Myanmar Peace Support Initiative, Japan’s Nippon Foundation and PACRIM Research Associates of the United States who will act as observers.

“During the conversation, the CNF will focus on Chin national concerns, military affairs, development, social and cultural issues and will follow up agreements which were signed at the first peace talks,” said the statement.

The delegation is scheduled to talk with Aung Min, Naypyidaw’s chief negotiator with ethnic armed groups, in Rangoon on Friday and Saturday. They will then meet with Chin community groups in the former capital until Dec. 12, followed by a tour of ethnic Chin areas of Sagaing Division to eventually arrive back in the Chin State capital Hakha around Dec. 21.

In January, the CNF signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement and then held peace talks with central government representatives in Hakha on May 7. The subsequent agreement included a cessation of hostilities and the opening of liaison offices in Tedim, Thantlang and Matupi.

However, local opposition to the opening of a CNF branch in Tedim saw a general strike in the town in June and a 200 person-strong protest rally in September. Demonstrators accuse the rebel group of targeting the Chin people and only serving their own interests instead of those of the wider community.

The CNF was formed on March 20, 1988, in the Indian state of Mizoram by the border with Burma with the stated aim of securing self-determination for the Chin people and democracy within a Federal Union.