In an emergency session on Wednesday, the Shan State legislature passed an urgent proposal to designate as “terrorist organisations” the four ethnic armed groups fighting with Burmese government forces in the state’s north.
Insofar as the Union government’s agenda for ethnic reconciliation is concerned, there is little doubt that the north, where the most powerful rebel armies operate, holds the key to a permanent negotiated settlement.
The Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee released a statement on Thursday conveying the ethnic armed bloc’s intention to join the next iteration of the government’s 21st Century Panglong Conference if its members are officially invited to do so.
The government Peace Commission is preparing to meet “soon” with members of a recently formed alliance of ethnic armed groups based largely in Burma’s north, an apparent signal that the new coalition is increasingly viewed as an important factor in the peace process calculus.
A damning new report from Amnesty International paints a picture of northern Burma in which the military continues to act with impunity, accused of human rights abuses tantamount to war crimes just weeks after the appointment of a UN fact-finding mission to probe such concerns.
Fighting broke out on Sunday between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and government troops along a road linking the villages of Pansan and Pankyan, near the town of Kyaukme in northern Shan State.
The Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) said it has agreed to four of the Burmese military’s six requests, but that it cannot fully adhere to the existing laws of the country nor the current Constitution.
The Kokang Self-Administered Zone’s capital Laogai, in northern Shan State, came under attack early Monday morning, with a spokesman for the coalition of ethnic armed groups identifying itself as the Northern Alliance saying one of its members was responsible for the assault.
Negotiators gathered on Wednesday to kick off Burma’s latest round of high-level peace talks, ostensibly furthering a process that has bogged down amid ongoing conflict in the country’s border regions.
“Despite the fact that intense hostilities are continuing between the two sides, I believe that this informal meeting could pave the way for a shift from armed conflict to political dialogues,” Naw Bo told DVB.
A Shan State court on Friday sentenced two Kachin pastors to harsh multi-year prison sentences after they were caught up in conflict in Muse Township, with the two men found guilty of all charges brought against them, including “unlawful association.”
The Arakan Army has reportedly launched attacks on a major Arakan Liberation Army (ALP) outpost along the Burma-India border, with a senior leader of the latter telling DVB that at least one soldier from the ALP’s armed wing was killed in the fighting.