The Burmese army and ethnic rebels the Shan State Army-North have agreed to temper hostilities after over a month of fighting in the country’s northeast.
The two groups met at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Rangoon on 23 and 24 of November, with the governments’ Union Peace-making Working Committee led by minister Aung Min, and the SSA-N led by executive committee member from its political wing, Sao Kher Tai of the Shan State Progressive Party.
A document listing the minutes of the meeting and signed by both groups was leaked on social media yesterday, however neither party has released official details of the talks.
The leaked document confirmed six points that both groups agreed upon: to scale back ongoing hostilities; to continue negotiations on the preliminary bilateral ceasefire signed in January 2012; for troops on both sides to be repositioned – with SSA-N forces to move to the north of the Mongnwang-Monghsu highway; to open a SSA-N liason office in Mongnwang; to expedite the re-opening of 17 local schools that shut down amidst the fighting and to cooperate on the resettlement of internally displaced persons in the area.
In recent weeks, Burmese troops have continued to close in on headquarters of the SSA-N in the town of Wanhai. Meeting in Rangoon, representatives of the Tatmadaw claimed that they have no intention to attack the crucial town.
Myanmar Peace Centre representative Min Zaw Oo declined to give an official statement on the meeting, instead directing enquiries to the SSA-N and the Shan State Progressive Party. SSA-N representatives were unavailable for comment.
On 18 November, the Burmese army informed the SSA-N that an order had been issued to cease hostilities in Monghsu – where conflict between government troops and the Shan ethnic group has been raging since the beginning of October. The fighting has left some 10,000 locals displaced, with many seeking shelter in local monasteries.
Shortly after, Shan Human Rights Watch alleged ‘war crimes’ committed by Naypyidaw forces during the shelling of densely populated central Shan State town Mong Nawng.
Read more about the conflict in Shan State here.