By Soe Htike Aung
How are Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement Signatories, NCA-S EAOs, and government moving forward with peace process during the prevention and control of corona virus? Are the NCA signatory groups satisfied with current peace building? Or in what extent has it achieved? Regarding to these questions, we have interviewed with Comrade Mi Sue Pwint (Member of the Central Steering Committee- All Burma Students’ Democratic Front-ABSDF).
Q- We have known NCA-S EAOs sat meeting on 3rd April. How would you do to trigger and keep moving forward with peace process while the country is simultaneously on struggle controlling the spread of COVID-19 pandemic?
Ans- The (10) NCA-S-EAO groups are holding Coordination Meetings, and NCA-S-EAO Working Group Meetings for the political dialogue framework. Besides, everyone knows the government and the NCA signatory groups are struggling to moving forward with peace process which is solid foundation on Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). They are attempting to moving forward with the political dialogues based on the (5) instructions delivered by State Counsellor at 5th Anniversary of NCA.
We are planning to review and discuss our different perspectives upon the NCA term and understanding; the main sectors are NCA part-3, part-4, and part-6, the interval affairs.
One more thing is the preparation to have certain assurance to enable to keep the political dialogues moving forward after 2020-election.
Although we have tried with one mission to be able to hold an Union Peace Conference (UPC) at the end of April 2020, we could not make it up due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic reached over Myanmar. The working group meetings is keep holding through online to prepare ahead any requirements.
The government, NCA-S-EAOs, and the political party members of UPDJC will continue discussing and make decision on how they will keep managing the rest sections.
Q- To prevent the COVID-19 pandemic effectively and to build nationwide ceasefire, but there are still fighting in some regions. So, how will you keep managing on it?
Ans- The Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) are trying their best to prevent and control COVID-19 in their controlled areas. The NCA signatory groups also trying their best in any possible sectors and finding solutions to cooperate with government.
In that case, it is very sorrowful for the citizens who are encountering heavy war. Although they are reminded to stop the civil war by considering for those citizens, they did not stop it, maybe because of the nature of the super-power or their planned strategies in battle.
Instead of building the humanitarian attitude or instead of giving favor to minimize COVID-19 crisis; if we think wider, instead of building federal union and cooperation for national reconciliation opportunity, the fighting keeps taking place. This sign reveals that our political abilities is very poor.
Therefore, we need the voice of public more than now.
Q- When would the 21st Conference be held, the one which was postponed due to the pandemic? What have you discussed for next step?
Ans- As I said above, the joined organizations should negotiate again and make the decision. I think it may also depend on the upcoming election. In my opinion, the current Myanmar peace building would turn worse than it if we get rid of this solution as we could not figure out any other solutions whether our NCA based peace process is strong or weak.
The respective political forces in our country do not have any political dialogue experience. We have already fought for (70) years. If comment by our current experience, we have rights to discuss on various perspectives whether it is opposite, east or west. You don’t even need to disappointed even if you can’t make decision. We can make common decision to continue negotiating on it. This point is main. No one said, “we can’t discuss anymore; we will choose war.” Therefore, I would say we may be able to be patient by looking at current peace process, and the situation is like we are not turning back.
Q- What have you discussed for the NCA non-signatory groups to participate in conference with what role? How would they join probably?
Ans- NCA-S-EAOs always request to invite the NCA non-signatory groups in every Union Peace Conference, and the 21st Panglong Conference. There are almost the government, Tamattaw, and political parties denied upon it. Some of them even start raised this point. However, when we consider about inviting them, will we invite them as special guest? or just guest? or will we invite them to join conference with equal rights to speech, making decision as other conference representatives? We have discussed about it a bit. There is one thing we need to consider different dimensions and questions that whether NCA is still required in order to keep holding the political dialogue, or would it impact NCA’s Bond, and Active if we give them equal rights, especially it is also important to consider the basic principle that he/she has equal rights to participate in political dialogue only if he/she signs NCA. According to the political view of organizations who are eligible to participate, it is vividly true we can’t neglect anyone’s participation to build peace. Thus, those eligible organizations should find solution how to overcome this condition.
Q- Do the NCA signatory groups satisfy with current peace building? What extent has it reach?
Ans- The leaders of NCA-S-EAOs always point out the stalled trust building in peace process. Peace process is the process to stop wars and hold the political dialogues successfully. The current NCA based peace process can’t bring both processes once for the whole community. Although there are seldom small fights at NCA signatories’ territories, there is no more heavy fights. Therefore, we are figuring out the best solution based on the experiences and difficulties. And we keep holding the negotiation process. In order to find out those kinds of positive solutions, we can say all military government, ethnic armed organizations, and political parties are intensively cooperating in this process.
Q- What is the main condition to build federal democracy and the union government. What are the challenges?
Ans- The necessity is mutual trust. The challenge is having various point of views on the ethnic equality and self-determination asked by ethnic people. Although different groups could openly discuss on the historical concepts and standpoints, there are many others needed to be done. We should also hold the elder and youth dialogue or raising awareness of public voice instead of discussing among same groups or standing for only your perspective. We should share our different viewpoints frequently and recognize others’ different viewpoint. While it is important to recognize the histories, it is also required to be acceptable the changing political processes. We admire with the speech delivered formerly by the State Counselor that the Burmese people should be generous as they are majority when we are striving for building democratic federal union. Our future will be blur or uncertain if we don’t have any generous political party. Even if the ethnic armed groups are asking for federal union, they also have the desire and value the democracy. If we talk about the democracy force in this day, is there any force? How much are those forces, who are fighting for democracy, worrying about federal system? What nasty thing would occur? How much have you consider this as yours and how will you figure it out? The answers are very important in order to build future democratic federal union which we all are asking for.
Q- As Tamattaw said it is difficult to have nationwide ceasefire, how will you keep going response to it?
Ans- Tamattaw have refused to announce the nationwide ceasefire over (60) years; in a way, maybe the Tamattaw government are not willing to have political dialogue with ethnic armed organizations throughout their reigns or have less trust on ethnic people, it leads to long last war. On President Thein Sein governance, the chance to have ceasefire negotiation with ethnic armed organizations came by. According to long historical experiences of ethnic armed organizations, they attempted to have firmed NCA in order to find out a chance for political dialogue.
So far the hope to nationwide ceasefire declaration is stalled except the Tamattaw giving the ceasefire to war fighting divisions or regions with time limited. However, it could be the best effort for the state if the Tamattaw could convey or show the wisdom people unexpected in this political situation. It could also turn to the biggest motivation for the success of peace process. On the other hands, I think the EAOs should also consider what they can do where possible instead of asking for the issue they can’t do. while it is important to signify trust in political dialogue, it is important to value the safe and protection of citizens from war crisis. For us, what we can do so far is that we can only withstand to keep holding political dialogue by current concept of establishing nationwide future democratic federal union. We are doing with our best effort to have the balance foundations between federal and democracy and to withstand to keep holding political dialogue.