Lawmaker to File Complaint Against Myanmar Army for Obstructing Public Consultations

By Chit Min Tun 22 December 2017

YANGON — Nan Kham Aye, a lawmaker representing the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in the Lower House, said she would file a complaint with Parliament about the Myanmar Army’s obstruction of public consultations organized by the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) prior to the Union Peace Conference.

“I’ve decided to raise the issue at Parliament when it resumes,” she told The Irrawaddy.

The national-level political dialogue is a mandatory step of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in which regional stakeholders express their suggestions and recommendations at large-scale public consultations, which are then shared by representatives at the Union Peace Conference, also called the 21st Century Panglong.

According to the NCA, signatories can hold national-level dialogues (NDs) based on three themes: region, theme and ethnicity.

So far, NDs have been held in areas of six of the eight NCA signatories, but not yet in Shan and Rakhine states.

A meeting of the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting on the NCA in November between the government, Tatmadaw and armed ethnic groups agreed that the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) would take charge in holding the dialogue in Shan State.

Prior to the ND, the CSSU has been holding pre-public consultations so that the RCSS could bring the voices and concerns of locals forward to the third session of 21st Century Panglong, which is slated to be held in January.

Formed in 2013, the CSSU is a coalition of Shan political parties, civil society organizations and two armed groups—the RCSS and the Shan State Progressive Party.

The CSSU formed five separate teams last week in Taunggyi to conduct consultations across 20 townships in southern, northern and eastern Shan State and in the Shan communities outside of Shan State in Mandalay, Kachin and Karenni states. Each group started discussions on Dec. 17.

According to organizers, the Myanmar Army stopped gatherings in Panglong, Tachilek, and Lashio townships.

Lt-Co Sai Oo, who is in charge of the RCSS Taunggyi Liaison Office, expressed disappointment, saying that those discussions were held with the permission of the Shan State government.

“We talked with the state government and it offered to provide any help necessary,” said Lt-Co Sai Oo, lamenting the lack of cooperation between the government and the military.

“We’ve instructed general administration departments [GADs] in the state to help in order to hold public consultations without disturbing stability and security,” Shan State minister for planning and economy U Soe Nynt Lwin told The Irrawaddy.

“The military said that it hadn’t received the letter [from the Shan State government]. But the district GAD said that it had informed the commander,” said lawmaker Nan Kham Aye.

President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay told The Irrawaddy in November that NDs still could not be held in Rakhine State because of “security concerns.”