Naga Armed Group Refuse to Sign NCA

By Chit Min Tun 5 June 2019

YANGON—The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), based at the Myanmar-India border in northwestern Myanmar said they would not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

“The Naga did not sign the first 1947 Panglong Agreement and the current NCA is a transformed structure of the 1947 Panglong,” said Joseph Lam Kan, the NSCN-K’s public relations officer.

“The reason is that we want to get our own independence. The Naga [people] will fight until their last breath,” he said. “Thus we don’t have to sign [the NCA]. This agreement is not for the Naga [ethnic group]. The Myanmar government put a lot of trust in India and that is their biggest mistake.”

The NSCN-K signed a regional bilateral ceasefire with the Sagaing Region government on April 9, 2012. The government is now inviting them to sign the NCA along with other armed groups.

The Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, is currently in control of the NSCN-K’s headquarters in Taga, in Nanyun Township of the Naga Self-Administrative Zone in Sagaing Region, since a raid of the area on January 29 which was instigated by claims that the group was giving refuge to Assam and Manipur (Meitei) rebels from India. The military arrested 24 Assam and Manipur rebels and police charged them under Article 17/1 of Myanmar’s Unlawful Association Act. They were each sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on May 15. Five NSCN-K leaders were also detained in the raid and are their trials are ongoing.

Both the NSCN-K and the military have accused each other of violating the 2012 bilateral agreement.

Military spokesperson Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy the current problem could be solved if the NSCN-K abides by three points: to take the NCA path, to uphold the principles stated in the bilateral agreement and not to support Assam and Manipur rebels.

“First of all, they must not allow rebels who are fighting with the neighbor (India) to stay with them. They need to honestly take the NCA path and follow its principles,” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min.

Joseph Lam Kan said the Naga affair is different to Myanmar’s other ethnic affairs and that the Myanmar government understands it very well. He said instead of pushing them to sign the NCA, the government should find another means of dealing with the NSCN-K push for independence.

“The Myanmar government has never cared about the Naga’s true desire. The seven-year ceasefire has been one-sided and they (the military) have gained advantages. They have not treated us well. The Myanmar government understands that Naga affairs are different from other ethnic group affairs. Instead of pressuring the Naga to sign the NCA, I am sure that the Myanmar government can find an alternative way.”

The Naga community is scattered across both sides of the Myanmar-India border. The Naga population in Myanmar is 400,000 and there are 15 different Naga tribes which have differing traditions, literature and cultures.  The population of Naga in India is over 3 million, composed of more than 30 tribes, according to Indian population data released in 2018.

The Naga have been trying to achieve a unified Nagaland, to have people from both countries living together under the Naga National Council (NNC) leadership for decades. In 1975, the NNC made peace with the Indian government. In 1980, Naga politicians reestablished the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. In 1988, the NSCN split into two factions: the NSCN-K based in Myanmar and the NSCN-IM based in India.

The NSCN-IM made peace with the India government in 1997 and are implementing peace through a political framework drafted in 2015.

The NSCN-K also made a temporary ceasefire with the Indian government in 2001, which was dissolved when fighting often broke out between them.

Both the Indian and Myanmar governments have said they do not acknowledge the Naga’s demands for independence from the countries.

“Myanmar is not stable and none of the ethnic people are happy, as [they] are being threatened. If they do not change the constitution to ensure ethnic rights, Myanmar will not be able to see stability in the near future.”

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