The Irrawaddy

Ta’ang Armed Group Opens First Liaison Office in Wa Territory

YANGON — The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) opened its first liaison office on Thursday in Panghsang, the declared capital of the Wa self-administered region in Shan State, to improve communication with allied armed groups.

The TNLA is a member of the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), which is led by the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and has seven members in all.

Major Tar Aike Kyaw, a spokesman for the TNLA, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the office was opened with the UWSA’s permission.

“We want to have better communication with each other, so we opened an office there,” he said, adding that he did not know if other FPNCC members had plans to do likewise.

The TNLA is based in remote parts of northern Shan and has found it difficult to travel to other parts of the state to meet with fellow armed groups. It says the new office will save it both time and money and help foster closer relations with the UWSA and the rest of the committee members.

“It was very difficult to get to Wa areas; we had to spend a lot of time to get there. It was also not safe when we traveled,”Major Tar Aike Kyaw said.

The FPNCC was formed to help its members hold peace talks with the national government and military and has received occasional assistance from China as a mediator. It has condemned the Myanmar military over its latest offensives against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of its members, in Kachin State and against the TNLA in Shan.

The Myanmar military has repeatedly warned the UWSA not to support the TNLA or any other members of the Northern Alliance, a separate but overlapping bloc of armed groups that often clash with the military in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan states.

But the UWSA, which claims some 30,000 fighters and the largest rebel army in the country, has ignored the warnings, with little direct blowback from the military.

The military has, however, been restricting the movement of ethnic Wa is some parts of Shan in an apparent bid to pressure the UWSA to cut ties with the Northern Alliance.

The FPNCC consists of the KIA, TNLA, UWSA, Arakan Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, National Democratic Alliance Army and Shan State Progressive Party.