Shan Rebel Group Demands Release of Detained Fighters

By Htet Naing Zaw 12 March 2019

NAYPYITAW — The Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) is demanding the release of 31 fighters is says the Myanmar military detained recently so that they can continue implementing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

RCSS Chief of Staff Gen. Pao Khay made the demand during a meeting with the government and military at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) in Naypyitaw on Monday.

“Such arrests and detentions are the main reasons why the implementation of the NCA is being delayed, so we would like the NRPC to consider it seriously,” he said.

The general said NCA implementation was also being hampered by restrictions the military was imposing on the public meetings ethnic groups are supposed to hold as part of the peace process, making it impossible for them to join the Panglong Peace Conference sessions.

Gen. Pao Khay said the fighters were mistakenly detained as suspected drug traffickers and that the RCSS would like to cooperate with the government and military to tackle northeast Myanmar’s drug trade.

NRPC Vice Chairman U Tin Myo Win called for frank discussions between the government, military and RCSS to clear up any misunderstandings and doubts.

RCSS and military leaders met again in Naypyitaw today.

On Feb. 12, about 50 RCSS members collecting money from motorists on the highway between Mong Ping and Kengtung in eastern Shan State stopped a vehicle with two military commanders and seized the military equipment on board.

The next day, the military fired artillery at an RCSS position near the group’s headquarters in the town of Loi Tai Leng, according to the RCSS. It returned the military equipment it had seized that evening.

The RCSS has signed up to the NCA but has not engage in official peace talks with the government since October. It is currently fighting with the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Shan State Progress Army and Pa-O National Liberation Organization.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.