Director-General of the Office of the President U Zaw Htay gave a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, briefing on internal peace making process, issues of Internally displaced person (IDP) displaced person and armed conflicts in Rakhine State.
Meetings between Peace commission, EAOs
After the Union Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong, the Peace Commission of the Union Government held negotiations with ethnic armed organizations-EAOs, said U Zaw Htay.
With 10 representatives each from the Union Government, EAOs and political parties reviewed the Frame Work (Term of Reference-ToR) on 1, 2 and 3 November, 2018.
To amend the discussion and to check spelling in detail, three representatives each from the three stakeholders sat down again on 12 and 13 November at the Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw.
The Peace Commission held unofficial meetings with RCSS, KNU and KNPP in Chiang Mai on 17 and 18 November. On 12 December, 2018, the Peace Commission held a negotiation meeting with UWSA “Wa” Special Region-2, KIO, TNLA, AA and MNDAA in Kunming, China.
The Director-General said the purpose of the meeting to discuss the issue of statement, adding the representatives of the government discussed issuing the statement with the three armed groups.
After the negotiation, the EAOs from the Northern Alliance released the statement demanding the Tatmadaw to stop military movements first, highlighting their willingness to make the political approach rather than military means and expressing their commitment to participation in the national reconciliation and peace processes through the political ways, said U Zaw Htay.
“On the day they released the statement, the Peace Commission also released a statement welcoming the way they chose to move forward with political approach and making a pledge to keep its efforts for cooperation of non-signatories of NCA in the NCA course through negotiations,” he said.
Following the latest development with three EAOs of the Northern Alliance, the Office the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services announced on 21 December its unilateral ceasefire.
The statement of the Tatmadaw said the Tatmadaw would cease military operations unilaterally in its five command areas from 21 December, 2018 to 30 April and offered peace negotiation with EAOs with a peace negotiation team led by Lt-Gen Yar Pyae if they wanted to hold peace negotiation with the National Reconciliation and Peace Centre.
After the Tamadaw’s four-month unilateral ceasefire, the Peace Commission went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in January 2019 and held unofficial meetings with KNU, RCSS, KNPP and KIO on 13 and 14 January.
On 13 February, 2019, the NRPC and leaders of the signatories to NCA held an official meeting at NRPC. At the meeting, the government side was led by NRPC Vice Chairman while the NCA-S EAOS delegation was led by their leaders. On 22 February, 2019, NRPC held a meeting with SSPP, SSA on 22 February, 2019. At the meeting, SSPP delegation was led by its Vice Chairman U Sao Khun Sai and discussed issues related with Wanhai region development, detained members of SSPP and their families, future peace making process and regional development. One day after the meeting between SSPP and NRPC, they held a negotiation with the Tatmadaw negotiation team led by Lt-Gen Yar Pyai at the Nay Pyi Taw Command and four agreement were reached at the meeting.
On 25 February, the delegation of the Peace Commission went to Kunming, China, and held unofficial meetings with KIO, TNLA and MNDAA and the discussions focused on reaching agreement on the Team Work Commitment. Previously, the meetings focused on signing Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement. But, the focus of the meeting turned from the bilateral ceasefire agreement to the Team Work Commitment as the AA group launched attacks on three police outposts in Rakhine State on 4th January during the period of the unilateral ceasefire of the Tatmadaw. The Peace Commission held an unofficial meeting with KNU on 8th March, 2019, with 10 signatories to NCA on 9 March and with KNPP on 10 March in Chiang Mai, Thailand, respectively.
Afterwards, NRPC and RCSS held an official meeting on 11 March at the NRPC. At the meeting, the government side was led by NRPC Vice Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win and RCSS side was led by Maj-Gen Baung Khay.
At the meeting, four agreements were reached, and one day after the meeting, the Tamadaw Negotiation Team and RCSS held separate discussion and reached agreements. A meeting between KNPP and NRPC was held at the NRPC on 18 March, 2019. A team led by NRPC member Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo and a delegation led by KNPP Vice Chairman Khu Oo Reh also held a meeting and reached agreements. One day after the meeting, the KNPP delegation and the Tatmadaw Negotiation Team held a meeting at the Nay Pyi Taw Command, and in the meeting, the two sides reached agreement to set a time frame for signing the NCA.
On 21 March, 2019, NRPC and non-signatories to the NCA held a meeting at NRPC in Nay Pyi Taw, and at the meeting, the government side was led by Dr. Tin Myo Win and members of the NRPC while the non-signatories to the NCA were comprised of seven EAOs of the Northern Alliance and KNPP totaling eight EAOs.
After the meeting, the two sides released a five-point statement on measures to be taken for the peace making process, regional developments and peaceful negotiation and solving the issues through political dialogue.
The peace making process has found some progress following the meetings with EAOs.
An official meeting between NRPC and KNPP is scheduled to be held in coming April. Following that meeting, KNPP will hold a meeting with the Tatmadaw. Following the meetings, KNPP will move forward to signing NCA. These are agreements with KNPP, said U Zaw Htay.
Past and future meetings
Another point was to meet with KIA/KIO twice in April. The first will be from 2 to 9 April and the second one will be after Thingyan. The first will be with NRPC and then the Tatmadaw. In the second one the meeting will be with NRPC and then the Tatmadaw.
KIA will be submitting a counter proposal to the Team Work Commitment proposed earlier by General (retired) Khin Zaw Oo. They’ll be sending a draft reply on 30th of this month but was known to have amended the reply date.
Meeting with KNU was also agreed. The meeting was proposed for April 10 and 11. The actual date was being discussed. KNU had agreed to meet first with NRPC and then with Tatmadaw delegation led by Gen Yar Pyae.
There were matters discussed with SSPP and RCSS. Especially clashes in Kyaukme and Hsipaw between RCSS and SSPP, RCSS and joint SSPP, and with Tatmadaw were causes difficulties for people. A tripartite meeting of Tatmadaw, RCSS, SSPP, SSA was proposed first followed with a tripartite meeting between NRPC, SSPP and SSA. In the tripartite meeting with Tatmadaw, avoiding of clashes, deployment of troops and avoiding clashes in the region will be coordinated and discussed to reach an agreement. Once this discussion was concluded a proposal made for NRPC to lead another tripartite meeting the next day for displaced people. The date will be fixed after further discussion.
A meeting was held in Thailand, Chiang Mai with 10 EAOs that had signed. The outcome was to meet again in end April and strive toward restarting the regular meetings.
There were IDP camps managed by Kachin State government and IDP camps in KIO areas. A casual agreement reached with KIA about these camps was to conduct bilateral discussions. To build trust, discussion was made to close IDP camps with NRPC. NRPC and KECC leading committee had already met once and will meet again in April. The aim was to achieve principle agreement between NRPC and KECC that includes de-mining as well as future works once military matters were agreed upon and clashes no longer occurs. There was a CSO network in Kachin called Joint Strategy Team that will implement this. It was supporting IDP camps and CSO Network will work together ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and Kachin government from the government side with supports from INGOs and NGOs to support IDP and resettle to their places of origin. These were the progresses reached to date by the peace process.
Armed conflict in Rakhine State
With regards to the situation in Rakhine State from 4 January to 28 March there were 103 clashes with AA. During this period there were 44 land mine explosion incidents. A total of 39 consisting of 27 Myanmar Police Force personnel and 12 civilians were killed while a total of 46 consisting of 26 Myanmar Police Force personnel and 20 civilians were wounded. During the clashes, 58 AA personnel were killed and 8 captured. 22 small arms were also captured. Detailed Tatmadaw casualty figures will be released by the Tatmadaw.
There were killings and abduction of civilians while there were no clashes. One was released while six were killed. At the moment two were reportedly missing. A village administrator, former head of a hundred household and a former village administrator were among the six killed. The 12 civilians killed consist of a Bama, 9 Rakhines, a Shan and a Bengali while the 20 wounded civilians were 17 Rakhines, 2 Khamis and a Bengali.
It can be seen that the majority of killed and wounded were ethnic Rakhines. From 4 January when AA group enter Rakhine State and starts their destructive works, about 17,000 people were displaced to IDP camps. Those were 2,700 from Buthidaung Township, more than 3,500 from Kyauktaw Township, more than 2,000 from Minbya Township, more than 3,500 from Mrauk U Township, more than 1,900 from Ponnagyun Township, more than 2,500 from Yathedaung Township and more than 500 from Paletwa Township, Chin State. According to figures collected up to 24 March there were more than 17,300 people were displaced to IDP camps.
Matter about AA had been told repeatedly. NPRC Vice Chairman Dr. Tin Myo Win had also spoken about it during the meeting with 8 ethnic armed organisations that includes AA. The Government was extremely saddened about the dead, wounded and displaced innocent people and when there were continued armed conflicts, the directly affected people from the instability and insecurity were local Rakhines. Looking at the numbers killed and wounded, it could be seen that the majority were Rakhines and the Government was extremely saddened.
Historically, it could be seen that due to an attempt to resolve matters with arms, the country was without peace for more than 70 years. As other states and regions had much experience in it, they were walking down the path of peace and Rakhine State was restarting the whole thing from the beginning. We were now in the 21st century and the 20th century belief of resolving matters through arms had given a historical lesson of being unable to achieve an answer.
Both NRPC and the government urge AA and others that opportunity to participate in the political dialogues of 21st century union peace conference had been opened. Detailed discussion on this matter had been conducted with the Peace Commission. The Government, Tatmadaw, political parties and EAOs had committed to head toward a democracy federal union that had justice, freedom and equality. A solemn request was made to participate in a peaceful resolution through a political culture of peace talk at a time when other ethnic nationals and other EAOs were heading toward a democracy federal union.
The press conference came to a close after director general U Zaw Htay responded to questions raised by news media personnel on works done by the government for conflict avoiding people in Rakhine State, whether martial law will be declared in some part of Rakhine State, amending the Constitution, Myitsone Project, removal of Bohmu Ba Htoo monument, reorganization of General Administration Department, whether there’ll be an extension of the ceasefire period, news circulation about court cases opened against Naga ethnic armed personnel and plan to purchase helicopter for the country’s leaders. — MNA (Translated by TTN and Zaw Min)