YANGON — The Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU) stated that it would continue its public consultations for the ethnic Shan national-level dialogue in Shan State, despite the Myanmar Army deterring the first attempt in Panglong Township, southern Shan State on Sunday.
The public gathering in Panglong was forced to stop when some 60 Tatmadaw troops arrived and said it was not allowed.
The organizers expressed disappointment, as they had planned for the discussions in agreement with the UPDJC and in accordance with the permission of the Shan State government.
Nang Ying, a representative for the social sector discussion group representing the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), said the Tatmadaw’s actions “were unacceptable” as they came in with the weapons among the public.
The public consultations prior to the national-level dialogue (ND) are necessary to be able to include public concerns and suggestions. According to the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) text, the signatories of the NCA can hold NDs based on three themes: region, theme and ethnicity. Prior to the second session of the 21st century Panglong union peace conference (UPC), the Karen, Pa-O, Chin and Burman NCA signatories were able to conduct their ethnic NDs (Shan and Rakhine were unable to), while the government conducted the regional and thematic NDs.
“We will move forward with our plan,” said Sai Kyaw Nyunt, a secretary of the CSSU and of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), as the plan to hold the consultations was agreed to at the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM) in late November.
Sai Kyaw Nyunt is also a secretary at the UPDJC, one of the highest decision-making bodies in the implementation of peace building.
He said that the case was shared with the UPDJC, which is led by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and peace commission members.
The CSSU formed the five separate teams last week in Taunggyi, to conduct consultations across 20 townships in southern, northern and eastern Shan State and in the Shan communities outside of Shan State in Mandalay, Kachin and Karenni states. Each group started discussions on Dec. 17.
The CSSU teams had completed consultations in Muse, northern Shan State, and Langkho (Linkhay), southern Shan State, on Monday and Namkham on Tuesday, according to the organizers. A consultation team was then to return to Panglong after it completed its lists of towns.
The RCSS is a member of the CSSU and the ethnic-based national level dialogues led by the group were stalled early this year as the Tatmadaw did not agree on the venue; Taunggyi, for the dialogue. But in November, the RCSS agreed to hold the Shan ethnic ND in Langkho in January 2018.
In 2016, the CSSU held its pre-consultations in 45 townships in preparation for the Shan-led ND and drafted recommendations in regards to the political, economic, social, land and environment, and security sectors to be discussed at the Union Peace Conference.
Sai Kyaw Nyunt said: “We will bring all of the public suggestions and combine them into our draft recommendations. We aim to complete this national-level dialogue prior to the third session of the 21st century Panglong UPC,” planned to be held in late January.
Chit Min Tun contributed to this report.