YANGON — Without reaching an agreement that covers the ethnic Naga people in both Myanmar and India, the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) will not sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), according to peace negotiator U Kyaw Wan Sein of the NSCN-K.
“We are not yet ready to sign the NCA, and are still discussing it. Naga people live both in Myanmar and India. And we can’t sign the NCA for only Naga people in Myanmar. It should cover Naga people in both countries, otherwise there is no way we can sign it,” U Kyaw Wan Sein told The Irrawaddy.
The NSCN-K, formed in 1988, demands the “independence of Nagaland.” Prior to that, ethnic Naga fought for independence—both in Myanmar and India—under the National Socialist Council of Nagaland formed in 1980. But eight years later, the council split into two factions: the NSCN-K and another fraction, known as the NSCN-IM, mostly fighting against the Indian government, was led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah.
Little is currently known about the movement of the NSCN-K in the northwest of Myanmar, except that the NSCN-K signed a ceasefire agreement with U Thein Sein’s government on April 9, 2012, but has rarely been seen in ongoing peace talks, only taking part as observers. The NSCN-K participated as an observer to the NCA-drafting process, but stated it was not interested in signing it. It has instead proposed that a “tripartite dialogue” involving Myanmar, India and the Naga be used to reach a solution.
The current National League for Democracy government’s peace negotiators, led by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, invited the NSCN-K to attend the latest 21st Century Panglong peace conferences in August 2016 and May 2017, but it did not attend.
U Hla Maung Shwe of the government peace commission told The Irrawaddy: “There was no fighting with the [NSCN-K] and the Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] after 2000. We have smooth relations with them. But, it will take time to talk them into signing NCA.”
The NSCN-K reportedly operates in the areas of Lahe, Leshi, Hkamti and Namyun townships in Sagaing Region. The ethnic Naga in Burma were given a self-administrative zone in Leshi, Lahe and Namyun townships under the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The NSCN-IM faction mainly operates in northeastern India across the border.
There are around 400,000 Naga people living in Myanmar.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.