covering burma and southeast asia
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Burma

UNFC Forms Peace Group for Govt. Talks


By LAWI WENG Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Soldiers of the SSA-South take part in a military drill at their base near the Thai-Burmese border. (Photo: Reuters)
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Leaders of an umbrella organization of ethnic parties, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), formed a peace talk group last week in preparation for future negotiations with the Burmese government.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, UNFC secretary Nai Hang Tha said, “There are eight representatives within the group which includes Mon, Shan, Karenni, Chin, Arakanese, Karen, Kachin and Pa-O people.

Nai Hang Tha explained that he will head the group with Colonel Lapai Hla, from the Kachin Independent Army (KIA), acting as deputy.

“We are prepared to talk about equal rights for ethnic people in the country. We will also talk about reforming the new constitution so that a genuine federal union will exist [in Burma],” he said.

“We will ask [the government] to stop their military offensives launched in ethnic areas and announce a nationwide ceasefire. If possible, we will ask them to have tripartite dialogue,” he added.

Leaders of the UNFC said that they want to hold peace talks with the government on the Burmese border or at a location within a neighboring country.

“It is best to talk within neighboring countries if those nations allow us to do so,” said Nai Hang Tha. Or we can talk at the border where there is security for us, like Kachin people have done in the past as they control their area.” 

UNFC leaders decided to invite neutral persons who are well respected in the country—including pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi—to witness talks, and aim to sign an agreement on paper as evidence of their commitment.

The leaders do not want the government to offer peace talks on a group-by-group basis, as they do not believe this can solve problems in the country.

State-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported on Aug. 18 that the government offered an “olive branch” to the armed groups, encouraging them to contact their respective state or division authorities as a first step toward meeting with a union government delegation.

“The government should not divide groups to have peace talks individually because our country's problems are not down to only one group. They need to talk with the UNFC as we represent all the ethnic groups,” said Nai Hang Tha.

The UNFC was formed in February at a meeting in northern Thailand attended by a dozen ethnic groups. These included the Kachin Independence Organization, Karen National Union, Karenni National Progressive Party, Chin National Front, New Mon State Party, Shan State Progress Party, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, Palaung State Liberation Front, Arakan National Council, Lahu Democratic Union, Wa National Organization and Kachin National Organization.

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88-NGS-UK Wrote:
13/09/2011
Dear UNFC,
Peace talk has to do inside Burma only, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Selected Leaders of your group representative should be included. Please try to be flexible of reforming all Armed Organizations and Parties. All others steps will be follow after all, it may take long long time to believe each other as well as in Economically and so on. Well Done!!

Ko Reh Wrote:
01/09/2011
If military regime is unwilling to accept this UNFC’s GOODWILL offer to resolve the country’s problem, obviously this regime is still the old radical regime.

It dose not a mater whoever says this regime is wiling to make a real change by recent meetings with DASSK and made an announcement for activists to return home, all those are non-sense for ethnic peoples. There is no proof to present to ethnic people that the country is in the mode of change.

This country has suffered to this point because ethnic rights and roles within the country’s governing body has not been recognized and reformed.

UNFC must stick to its agendas. If the regime has an honest will to make a real change then they will accept and agree with UNFC’s GOODWILL to resolve the country’s political problems. If not this country is no longer on the same direction.

Moe Aung Wrote:
01/09/2011
A welcome development. There is strength in numbers and more importantly in unity. Resist continued attempts at divide and conquer.

Tripartite talks make good sense. Strive for solidarity between the mainstream and minority groups. Thrash out the principal points beforehand and now is the time to make contact in private. A basic common program for the future of the country is crucial (but way too early to draw up a new constitution without the majority Burmese and spring it on them as a fait accompli).

A neutral venue is also a good idea if workable although the govt is unlikely to agree to that; as a bargaining chip it will still be useful.

zaw zaw Wrote:
01/09/2011
Very well done UNFC !

Kyaw Wrote:
01/09/2011
Burma from eventual Disintegration as they are the most hated Government by its own people on earth, no trust no respect and no support from the public, not even from the army their own sons. Fail to talk to UNFC and fail to give in to their demand will be disaster.

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