Myanmar Junta Invites Some Ethnic Armed Groups to Preliminary Peace Talks
By The Irrawaddy 7 February 2022
The Myanmar junta released an announcement on Sunday inviting ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) excluding those it has declared as “terrorist groups” to attend preliminary peace talks on the upcoming Union Day, which will fall on Saturday.
The offer comes as it struggles to control the country a year after the coup and faces intensified clashes nationwide with civilian resistance forces and ethnic armed groups allied with them.
The junta, which is notorious for its brutal killings, shelling, air strikes and atrocities against civilians including in ethnic states, claimed in the Sunday announcement that achieving enduring peace for the entire nation was a policy that formed part of its roadmap.
“It is necessary to focus on perpetual peace by seeking a solution in negotiations in accord with democratic practices in order to solve the political problems [that have existed] in successive eras,” the regime stated in the announcement.
It added that except groups declared as terrorist groups, it had invited not only ethnic armed organizations that are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) but also non-NCA signatories to the Diamond Jubilee Union Day ceremony and the pre-coordination meeting on “perpetual peace talks”.
The junta has declared the parallel civilian National Unity Government (NUG), its parliamentary body the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) and it armed wing the People’s Defense Force as terrorist groups.
“The regime has already violated the NCA…The military is the main enemy and destroyer of peace, and thus we have nothing to discuss with them,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee, head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Karen National Union, one of the major ethnic armed groups of Myanmar and an NCA signatory.
“That’s why we are working to overthrow the military dictatorship, which is the public’s strong desire, first, and the second is to build a federal democracy,” he added.
The longstanding revolutionary group has provided military training to youth resisting the military regime. Its armed group has attacked regime bases near the Thai border in response to the junta’s deadly crackdowns on protesters. The KNU has urged the regime to step down.
Meanwhile spokespersons from the Arakan Army (AA), Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) offered vague responses to the offer, saying they had not yet received the invitation and had therefore not decided whether to accept.
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