Monday, May 14, 2012

UNFC gives deadline to halt military offensives

Monday, 14 May 2012 13:45 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) says it will review the ethnic cease-fire agreements reached with the Burmese government if the government does not halt military offensives in Kachin State by June 10.

The UNFC met on May 12 at a location on the Thai-Burma border.

PNLO chairman Khun Okkar, left, and Aung Min, the government peace team leader, opposite. Photo: Mizzima

UNFC Joint Secretary (2) Colonel Khun Okkar said the Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and New Mon State Party (NMSP) would reconsider their cease-fire agreements already reached with the government unless the government stops its military offensives in Kachin State.

“These three major cease-fire groups decided to make this demand to show solidarity with their fellow KIO at the expense of their [own] cease-fire agreements. They demand [the government] to stop using force and to seek peace instead,” he told Mizzima.

The delegates from the Chin National Front (CNF) did not attend the meeting because they were attending a meeting with a government union-level peace delegation led by Aung Min in Hakha, the capital city of Chin State.

The UNFC statement dated May 12 said the members would review and reconsider their future plans if the government offensives continue.

The statement said, “The main purpose of the government offensives in northern Shan State and Kachin State is to protect the commercial and economic interests of foreign investments in Burma. We oppose and object to the killing of our own ethnic people in the country for the interests of foreign countries.”

Despite of a presidential order on December 10, 2011, which called for a halt to all military offensives in ethnic areas, the government has deployed about 2,000 troops near KIO headquarters in Laiza, including artillery and helicopters, said KIA Colonel Khun Okkar.

The renewed fighting erupted between government troops and the KIA on June 11, 2011. The KIA said there have been 1,300 clashes.

The statement urged the international community not to suspend or lift the political, military and economic sanctions imposed on the government.

Khun Okkar said he cautiously welcomed the newly formed peacemaking central committee led by President Thein Sein, but it would not succeed if it continues with the current policy.

The UNFC statement said the current policy of President Thein Sein which calls for ethnic groups to form political parties, to stand for election and to continue the transformation and reform process in Parliament through laws and consensus is not acceptable. The decades-long political disagreements should be addressed through political dialogue, he said.

The UNFC was formed in February 2011 with six core member ethnic groups and six associate ethnic groups totaling 12 ethnic groups that are opposing the government for their right to self-determination.

Among their members, the KNU, CNF, NMSP, Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and KNPP have signed preliminary cease-fire agreements with the government.

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