UNFC hosts workshop on defence and security affairs

Ethnic armed organizations which did not sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) held a 3-day workshop titled “Security, Defence and the Current Political Situation’ from February 14 to 16 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The workshop was attended by representatives from the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and the non-armed United Nationalities Alliance (UNA). In total over 40 delegates attended.

UNFC Vice-Chairman Nai Han Tha told Mizzima that they had explored ways for progressing peace talks as they could not accept DDR (disarm, demobilize, reintegration) as proposed by the government and the Tatmadaw (defence services) which, he said, is the key issue in regards to defence and security affairs.

“We explored and mulled ways for security and defence affairs. We want a Federal Defence Services but the government and Tatmadaw said that it was not needed. They proposed only DDR so that our ethnic armed organizations had to integrate with their army. So we explored ways to settle this issue. We want an international model in reaching peace. This DDR issue will be a roadblock at future peace talks and political dialogue. So we focused on this issue at the workshop,” he told Mizzima.

“We don’t want DDR. We only want our proposed SSR (Security Sector Reform). We want to have our own State Defence Forces in each and every State. We don’t yet have trust among our ethnic nationalities. We don’t have trust in the current government. So we cannot accept a sole government army by demobilizing all of our ethnic armies. Under these circumstances we held this workshop to explore ways to settle this issue,” Nai Han Tha said.

He also said that although the government had disarmed some ethnic armed organizations in the past, these organizations did not get any benefits from their peace agreements with successive governments so that they had to choose armed revolt again. Under these circumstances, they could not yet accept the disarming and demobilization of their armies.

At the workshop, retired army general Bala Nanda Sharma from Nepal discussed the peace process in his country in relation to a military code of conduct, ceasefire monitoring, and security affairs.

Professor Christine Ball from Edinburgh University discussed the implementation of the peace agreement while Ravinder Pal Singh from India spoke about defence and state security policies.

Aung Htoo from the Legal Aid Network (LAN) spoke about weaknesses in the Myanmar peace process at the Union Peace Convention (UPC). And Sai Kyaw Nyunt and Sai Nyunt Lwin from Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) discussed matters relating to the UPC.

In his opening address delivered at the workshop, Khu Oo Reh, UNFC General Secretary and Vice Chairman of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), urged all ethnic armed organizations to get ready for political transition when the new government assumes office and to avoid the difficulties faced in over 60-years’ experience of security affairs, defence affairs, constitutional affairs, international affairs, and human rights.

The workshop was organized by the Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Centre (ENAC).

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