UNFC Criticizes Government for Bashing Ethnic Groups, Not Pushing for Peace

By Lawi Weng 14 December 2016

RANGOON — The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) strongly criticized Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) government on Tuesday for failing to stand up for peace in the country, according to a statement the group released.

The UNFC, a coalition of seven ethnic armed groups, expressed its frustration with the State Counselor and her government offices, which recently denounced the ethnic armed groups who are fighting in northern Shan State and lauded the actions of Burmese Army. The UNFC blames the ongoing conflict in Shan State on aggression by the Burma Army, the statement read.

“It is incredible to see and is unbefitting a government seeking peace. It is not only petty-minded, but also responding to the problem one-sidedly, and it lacks an understanding of the plight of the people,” said the UNFC statement.

Four ethnic armed groups, dubbed the Northern Alliance, have engaged in a joint offensive against the Burma Army in northern Shan State since Nov. 20. The alliance includes the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA). None of the four groups have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

Before the Northern Alliance started fighting on Nov. 20, the Burma Army had launched a three-month-long military offensive in Kachin State, and it also attacked some TNLA positions, the UNFC statement said.

The Burma Army engages in a policy known as the “Four Cuts,” one of which is blocking the delivery of aid to civilian internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kachin and northern Shan State, the UNFC statement said.  The UNFC said that it is unhappy about the State Counselor’s silence on this issue.

The UNFC accused the Burma Army of “discrimination,” saying that the army did not actually desire to bring the TNLA, AA, MNDAA, and KIA into political talks or to sign a ceasefire agreement with them. The UNFC demanded that the government negotiate with all parties, that all of the ethnic armed groups be invited to future peace conferences, and that there be no time limits on signing the NCA, the statement read.

“Apparently, even if all ethnic groups cannot participate, the government will try to realize peace with only the organizations that can attend. This indicates that the government is not moving toward nationwide peace and stability,” said the UNFC statement.

During the election campaign, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi promised to stand alongside ethnic people in the pursuit of peace if the NLD came to power. Groups like the Pa-O did support the State Counselor then, but she has so far failed to keep her promise, said the UNFC statement.

“The government has the power to correct these errors, which we the UNFC are also trying to fix, in the interest of a nationwide sustainable peace,” said the statement.