Shan Delegation Tours Switzerland to Study Federal System

By Saw Yan Naing 26 January 2016

A delegation of ethnic Shan representatives toured Switzerland this month for an intensive study on federalism, according to a source close to the group.

Lt-Gen Yawd Serk, the leader of an ethnic armed organization in southern Shan State, and journalist Khuensai Jaiyen, who is a senior member of the peace support group Pyidaungsu Institute, were among the high-profile members of the delegation.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Irrawaddy that the group of Shan leaders and young intellectuals were “learning about federalism,” but could not elaborate further.

Yawd Serk is the commander of the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), the armed wing of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS). His troops number about 7,000, and the group was one of eight non-state forces to sign a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government in October.

Khuensai Jaiyen joined the delegation on behalf of the Pyidaungsu Institute, an organization funded largely by the Euro-Burma Office (EBO). The EBO is directed by Harn Yawnghwe, the son of Shan royalty and an influential yet divisive figure in the peace process.

The delegation was said to have toured Murten, a municipality in the See district of Fribourg. It is unclear whether the visit was brokered by the EBO.