Ethnic negotiators demand answers on boot camp shelling

Ethnic negotiators demand answers on boot camp shelling

Questions will have to be answered before ceasefire talks can resume, said a leading ethnic representative at Tuesday’s talks in Chiang Mai, including a clear explanation from the Burmese army of how and why a training camp near Laiza in Kachin State was shelled on 19 November, resulting in the deaths of 23 cadets.

Kwe Htoo Win, general-secretary of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which represents 17 ethnic armed groups at the talks, said that Burmese government negotiators had on Tuesday requested a further meeting with their ethnic counterparts on 17- 18 December.

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He said that, in response, the NCCT had raised some questions and demands for the government’s Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC), including: a explanation of how and why a Burmese army unit had attacked with artillery a training camp near Laiza on 19 November; plans to prevent similar attacks taking place in other regions; security for NCCT members when they travel to Rangoon for talks; and a response to proposals the NCCT laid out at previous meetings to be included in a single-text Nationwide Ceasefire Accord.

“The resumption of ceasefire talks will depend on the UPWC’s answers to these questions,” said Kwe Htoo Win, who is also general-secretary of the rebel Karen National Union. “When we have the answers, we will respond to their proposal.”

Hla Maung Shwe, a member of Myanmar Peace Centre, which regularly hosts and brokers ceasefire negotiations, said he still believes talks will go ahead before the end of December.

“Minister U Aung Min this week proposed resuming talks in December, and the NCCT then put forward five questions on certain issues they would like to clarify,” he told DVB. “We agreed in principal that the minister will provide responses within three or four days, and thereafter we expect to resume negotiations later this month.”

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