Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) will hold a three-day conference including ethnic armed groups in Chiang Mai on Sept. 14 t0 16.
The focus will be to find ways to create a genuine “Union country,” said the chairman of the conference organizing committee.
“[We want] various nationalities to have the same vision. [We want] national solidarity. Our intention is to negotiate for ways to establish peace,” said Nai Hong Sar, the secretary of New Mon State Party.
Ethnic cease-fire groups, non-ceasefire groups, community-based organizations in Burma, ethnic political parties, nongovernmental organizations, women’s organizations and youth organizations are invited to attend the conference.
Khun Okkar, a member of the conference organizing committee, said that the intention is to inform ethnic people about the peace discussions between ethnic armed groups and the government and to seek their opinions.
Khun Okkar told Mizzima that the government conducted peace negotiations with various ethnic armed groups one by one, but it failed to hold an all-inclusive peace talk and that is a weakness in the peace process. Because of that, he said it’s difficult to trust the government.
He said at least 100 people would attend the conference.
Saw Mya Yar Zar Lin, a Rakhine [Arakan] State representative on the committee, said that they wanted to hold an ethnic conference prior to a Panglong-like conference that the government is likely to hold at a later date.
“For a long time, word has gone around that the government will hold a Panglong-like conference. Prior to it, we, ethnic people, have many things to say to each other,” Saw Mya Yar Zar Lin, the secretary of the peace making committee of the Arakan Liberation Party, told Mizzima.
She said that the government has conducted a peace process, but it needs to be all-inclusive and have openness.
Saw Mya Yar Zar Lin, who recently returned to Burma after 24 years in exile, criticized the government’s peace making committee for not having a detailed timetable. The government needs to agree to “Union level” demands made by ethnic groups in order to build trust, she said.
Meanwhile, Major Sai La, the spokesman of the Shan State Army-North, said that it had signed a cease-fire agreement with the government, but the government did not adhere to it, so it was difficult to trust the government.
“Now, shooting breaks out where our troops are posted. That means [they] have a weakness in adhering to their agreement,” said Major Sai La.