Myanmar Junta Extends Peace Invites As Major Armed Groups Shun

By The Irrawaddy 15 June 2022

Myanmar’s junta boss Min Aung Hlaing repeated his invitation to ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) which have not attended the current so-called peace talks.

Major EAOs, including the Karen National Union (KNU), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Karenni National Progressive Party and Chin National Front, are fighting the junta and have rejected an offer in late April to attend talks as neither genuine nor inclusive.

The junta excluded the country’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and its armed wing, the people’s defense forces (PDFs), who have been fighting beside some EAOs.

“A peace overture is made once again to [all] EAOs that are still absent from the peace talks and they are urged to truly realize the national and regional interests,” the junta stated on Tuesday.

It urged EAO leaders to reply by June 30.

The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA, said in May that it would only attend talks when all sides were invited.

The KNU, the political wing of the KNLA, made a similar response last month.

Responding to the latest invitation, KNU spokesman Phado Saw Taw Nee told Khit Thit media that the armed group had no plans to talk with Min Aung Hlaing.

“Our position is clear. We have no reason to hold talks with them,” he was quoted saying on Wednesday.

The KNU and KIA are among the country’s most powerful EAOs and have been fighting alongside the PDFs.

After a year of clashes with newly formed resistance forces, Min Aung Hlaing’s offer of talks has been interpreted as an attempt to divide the armed struggle and persuade EAOs not to support the resistance.

This week’s invitation comes amid rising tension between the regime and the Arakan Army (AA) as the junta increases its military presence in Rakhine and Chin states. 

The AA rejected the earlier invitation to talks.

AA spokesman Khaing Thukha said on Tuesday that the group did not attend the junta’s previous peace talks as it stood with those who fight the junta. 

He said the regime’s continuing arrests and oppression of the Rakhine people showed that talks were pointless. 

Seven of the 10 signatories of the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement and three non-signatories, the Shan State Progress Party, United Wa State Party and National Democratic Alliance Army, which are not fighting the junta, have accepted the invitation. Representatives from six groups have visited Naypyitaw since May 20. 

The NUG on June 1 declared that any agreements made with the terrorist regime would be illegal and would not be recognized.

The civilian government labeled the regime a terrorist organization in June last year.

“The military regime is a terrorist organization which will be tried at the International Court of Justice for committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide… It has no right to negotiate with other parties like a government,” the NUG stated.

Since last year’s coup, junta forces have killed at least 1,941 people and detained more than 14,100, including elected leaders and students.