Myanmar - where peace and war can be found at the same time


Temporary displacement site in Mong Hsu Township, Shan State on 4 December 2015. Credit: OCHA

Temporary displacement site in Mong Hsu Township, Shan State on 4 December 2015. Credit: OCHA

Recently, there have been a series of armed clashes between the Shan State Army - North and government troops in Mong Hsu Township, Shan State. Along with the news of the conflict, we have, sadly, also heard the cries of war victims forced to flee from their homes.

Thankfully, individuals and organizations have rushed to these victims forced to taking refuge in camps and have provided them with relief supplies.

The words told by a mother of a new-born baby, now taking refuge in Haipa camp, one of many camps in Mong Hsu, is tragic and moving. She fled from her home with her husband amid the raging war and unending gunfire. Then she had no choice but to give birth in a cave cutting her umbilical cord with kitchen scissors. Her labour and delivery were assisted by none other than her husband, but they dared not to build a fire which could attract gunfire from either side, therefore they had to survive on leftover cold rice with water.

The saying goes the first victim of war is truth well this ‘truth’ is certainly filled with blood and tears of victims. Those who most suffer this war are innocent children, women, and other local people who have nothing, and want nothing, to do with these wars.

While the battle is raging in Shan State and the number of refugees is increasing, there are daily peace talks in Naypyitaw.

Among the many armed ethnic organizations which have been fighting against the government, only eight organizations signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in Naypyitaw on October 15. Yet other ethnic armed organizations including some of the most powerful have not signed the agreement which has already been ratified by parliament. Both the government and the eight signatories have expressed the desire to continue negotiations with those remaining armed organizations.

The people still doubt both sides in regards to their sincerity towards ending the civil war. Although people have seen the peace process in Naypyitaw, the NCA signing ceremony, and subsequent dialogue -they also see raging war and hear incessant gunfire. So it is understandable that people have doubts about the peace process.

According to some observers and analysts who are watching the peace process, ending the civil war really wholly depends on the true will and desire of both sides to stop it.

Regardless, people have hated this war for a long time. They have suffered for decades. These wars have dragged our country into abject poverty. So all people responsible for the war must take into consideration the suffering of the people and work towards its end.

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