Shan Coalition Meeting Cut Short Under Military Pressure

By Nyein Nyein 4 March 2016

RANGOON – The three-day annual meeting of the Committee for the Shan State Unity (CSSU) ended after only one day on Friday due to pressure from the local military in Rangoon.

The committee, which is a coalition of ethnic armed groups, political parties and civil society organizations, aimed to explore strategies that would advance collaboration and unity within Shan State’s diverse communities.

The Shan leaders met at Micasa Hotel in Rangoon on Thursday and had planned to continue the meeting over the following two days at the Summit Parkview Hotel.

Sai Leik, the spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD)—the party which helped to organized the meeting—said that the managers of both hotels were pressured by the authorities against hosting the event.

Members of a local military affairs security team asked Sai Leik to let them in to the meeting room to listen to the proceedings on Thursday; the request was refused.

“As we did not let them in, they asked whether we had permission from the local authorities [for this meeting],” Sai Leik told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

“We did not need to ask for [permission] as it is an annual meeting of the committee, but I went to the Yangon western district office for the permission late Thursday afternoon. The chief did not dare to sign the paper, neither accepting nor rejecting the scheduling of the meeting, and also not giving any reasons,” he explained.

Two of the CSSU members are the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N); the former was removed from Burma’s list of unlawful organizations last year after signing a so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the government, but the latter was not a signatory to the pact.

Col Sai La of the RCSS/SSA-S, told The Irrawaddy that the meeting was legal according to the text of the nationwide ceasefire agreement as long as it centered on talks concerning national politics, which he said that it did.