Shan Coalition Emphasizes Unity and Collaboration at Annual Meeting

By Nyein Nyein 3 March 2016

RANGOON — The Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) began their second annual meeting in Rangoon on Thursday with a focus on collaboration among Shan organizations.

The three-day long meeting of CSSU—a coalition of ethnic Shan armed groups, political parties and civil society representatives formed in 2013—opened with a speech by Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) chairman Lt-Gen Yawd Serk.

Yawd Serk, also the current chair of the CSSU, emphasized the importance of working toward unity in his speech.

Echoing the Lt-Gen’s message, Sai Phone Han of the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) told The Irrawaddy that “we mainly have to build unity amongst the Shan first.”

RCSS/SSA-S has been engaged in clashes with the ethnic Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan State since November of last year. The fighting has displaced thousands, and will also reportedly be discussed at the Rangoon meeting.

Sai Leik, the spokesperson of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), told the reporters they would try to include other ethnic representatives on the collaboration team in the future, as the current CSSU is only comprised of Shan organizations.

“We, the Shan armed groups and political parties, have to meet first, but even now, the Shan Nationalities Development Party (SNDP) could not join this meeting,” he said, referring to a second ethnic Shan political party.

“We might have to establish a mobilization team to incorporate other ethnic groups based in Shan State,” Sai Leik said, when asked how it might be possible to unify people in such a diverse region of the country.

Issues of the public protection at the Union level, constitutional amendments in support of federalism and strategies to increase public peace building support will also be discussed at the meeting.