Three Myanmar Rebel Groups Announce 1-Month Ceasefire in Northern Shan State

By Lawi Weng 9 September 2019

The alliance of three ethnic armed groups that has been fighting the Myanmar military in northern Shan State on Monday announced a unilateral one-month ceasefire as a trust-building gesture amid peace negotiations aimed at producing bilateral ceasefire agreements between the government and the armed groups, local sources said. The Myanmar military has already imposed its own ceasefire in the region

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), who refer to themselves as the Brotherhood Alliance, said in a statement that the ceasefire would be in effect from Monday through Oct. 8.

“In order to facilitate the peace negotiations, we have declared a one-month ceasefire,” Brigadier General Tar Phone Kyaw of the TNLA told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

“We will try to build trust with them for one month as a trial period,” he said.

On Aug. 31, the military announced a three-week extension—until Sept. 21—of its unilateral ceasefire in five military commands in Kachin and northern Shan states. At that time, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy the extension had been imposed “in order to continue the current peace negotiations led by the NRPC [National Reconciliation and Peace Center].” The ceasefire was first announced on Dec. 21, 2018, and extended on April 30, June 30 and Aug. 31.

In Monday’s statement, the Brotherhood Alliance vowed not to initiate any action against the Myanmar Army during the ceasefire period. However, the group would defend itself if attacked, it said. 

“We will fight back at any time and in any place if they attack us,” it said.

The four members of the Northern Alliance (or NA, which comprises the Brotherhood Alliance plus the Kachin Independence Army) met with officials from the government’s NRPC in Keng Tung, eastern Shan State on Aug. 31. It was the first round of negotiations since the Brotherhood Alliance launched its offensive in northern Shan State and Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin Township two weeks earlier.

The NA members and the NRPC agreed to resume negotiations on Sept. 16 and 17. However, the venue has yet to be agreed, with the NA proposing Panghsang, the capital of Wa Region, or somewhere in China.

On Aug. 15 the alliance of three ethnic armed groups attacked Myanmar army and government locations in Mandalay Region and northern Shan State in what it described as a counteroffensive in response to the Myanmar military’s recent offensives in Rakhine and Shan states.

The alliance first announced a halt to their offensive actions in a statement on Sept. 2 in which they said they planned to work toward signing individual bilateral ceasefire agreements with the Myanmar government. 

Despite Monday’s announcement, a clash was reported in Shan’s Kutkai Township. Locals said they could hear artillery shelling in the area, though it was not known which groups were involved. 

“We heard fighting for about an hour,” said Daw Bawk Hkawng, a resident of Kutkai town.

The fighting occurred in the Khung Lane section of Pang Lon, an ethnic Ta’ang village, she said.

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