Myanmar Army Generals Attend Shan National Day Event at RCSS' HQ for First Time

By Nyein Nyein 6 February 2020

LOI TAI LENG, Shan State—High-ranking Myanmar military generals and government representatives have for the first time traveled to Loi Tai Leng, the headquarters of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) near the Thai border, to attend the 73rd anniversary of the Shan National Day, which falls on Friday.

Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo and Defense Services Inspector Lieutenant General Aye Win were among the 11-member delegation that arrived at the RCSS headquarters on Thursday.

The move is unprecedented, marking the first ever attendance by a senior military general and the Union attorney-general at commemorations of the Shan National Day in rebel-held territory. Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo is also the vice chairman of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center.

For the past few years, the government’s representation at the Shan National Day commemoration has been limited to a few members of the Peace Commission.

The high-ranking officials’ visit to the RCSS-led event is the result of RCSS chairman General Yawd Serk’s one-on-one meetings with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing last month in Naypyitaw. Their talks followed a session of the Joint Ceasefire Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM), considered a gateway to resuming the formal peace process, which was stalled throughout 2019.

The RCSS’s armed wing, the Shan State Army, has been fighting against the government for equality and self-determination since the 1960s. It entered a bilateral ceasefire in 2012 with the previous government.

The RCSS signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015 and is currently in peace negotiations and political dialogue with the National League for Democracy government, serving as the leader of the 10 signatories to the NCA.

The first Shan National Day was held in February 1947, when Shan leaders, as well as the Shan saophas (the former ruling hereditary princes) and public formed a united Shan State and agreed on a Shan national flag and anthem during the Panglong Conference from Feb. 3-12 that year.

Gen. Yawd Serk on Thursday stressed that at the 1947 summit, Feb. 7 was set as Shan National Day. It was the day work began toward achieving the Panglong Agreement, which was signed on Feb.12—now Myanmar’s Union Day. The pact was signed between some of the country’s ethnic leaders and the Burman representative, the late General Aung San, promising equality in a future independent, federal Burma.

Since then, Shan people across the state and elsewhere in Myanmar celebrate Shan National Day annually.

This year, the RCSS invited government and Tatmadaw representatives, as well as the ethnic armed organizations—regardless of their NCA signatory status—diplomats and international organizations. The EAO leaders and the international and domestic visitors have been making their way to Loi Tai Leng since Feb. 5 to join the festivities.