NCA Signatories Snub Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day

By The Irrawaddy 23 March 2021

Yangon — Some signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) say they will not attend an event organized by Myanmar’s military to mark Armed Forces Day on March 27.

The military regime’s invitation to the Karen National Union (KNU) to attend the event spread widely on social media, prompting the ethnic armed group to tweet: “The KNU will only attend ceremonies that reflect dignity, humanity, justice and freedom for all.”

A KNU official said: “The event coincides with the meeting of the central committee. The meeting will last for a month so it is unlikely that we will attend the Armed Forces Day event.”

Military tensions are escalating between the military regime and KNU Brigade 5 in Papun District, Karen State, with casualties and residents being forced from their homes.

The KNU has provided security for protests against the military dictatorship.

U Than Khae, chairman of the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), which also signed the NCA in 2015, said the armed group would not attend the event.

“I haven’t received a personal invitation. It might have been sent to the ABSDF office. We have no plans to attend,” he said.

Another signatory, Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), said it would not attend the event. Major Kham San, spokesman for the Restoration Council of Shan State, said he does not know if the armed group has been invited and the central committee has not made a decision.

The NCA signatory has offered asylum to anti-regime protesters, military personnel, police and government employees participating in the civil disobedience movement in its territory. It said it has already given asylum to some individuals.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP)’s internal affairs officer Nai Banyar Leh said he did not know if the party headquarters has received an invitation and could not say if the group would attend the March 27 event.

The Peace Process Steering Team of the NCA signatories announced in February that it fully supports the strikes against the military regime and has halted political dialogue with the military council.

The ABSDF, Arakan Liberation Party, Chin National Front, Democratic Karen Benevolent Army, KNU, Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council, PNLO, RCSS, NMSP and Lahu Democratic Union signed the NCA with the government in 2015.

Armed Forces Day, also known as Resistance Day, is celebrated annually on March 27, the day Myanmar’s army pushed back Japanese forces in 1945. The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19. Myanmar’s military is planning to organize the event this year.

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