The eight ethnic armed groups that signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Burmese government in 2015 have denounced last week’s parliamentary motions to label the Northern Alliance a “terrorist organisation”.
The eight militias, including the Karen National Union, said that they “strongly object to any attempt to label as terrorists “any ethnic armed group or respective leader”, noting that such a move could harm the on-going peace and national reconciliation process.
The NCA signatories made the statement during the third coordination meeting of their Peace Process Supervisory Team and Peace Process Working Team meetings on Sunday.
The statement urged those “ethnic armed groups that are not yet ready to sign the NCA” and the government to work together and cooperate with one another to bring about a lasting peace in Burma.
Last week, the Shan State regional assembly passed a proposal by the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to label as terrorists the following four ethnic armed groups – Kachin Independence Army; Ta’ang National Liberation Army; Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and Arakan Army –all of whom recently coordinated attacks on Burmese military and police outposts in northern Shan State. The four now refer to themselves as the Northern Alliance or Northern Alliance-Burma.
Prior to the parliamentary motion in Shan State capital Taunggyi, the USDP attempted to pass a similar proposal through the Lower House of Parliament, with one MP expressing concerns about the Alliance committing atrocities in northern Shan State during the conflict. However, lower house members decided to shelve that motion. During parliamentary debate in Naypyidaw, Deputy Defence Minister Lt-Gen Sein Win called on the house to classify the four ethnic armed groups as “terrorists” for their actions.
The Alliance has engaged in continual hostilities against Burmese government forces in northern Shan State, mostly in the areas of Muse, Mongko and Namtu, near the Burma-China border, since 20 November.
The eight ethnic militias that are signatories to the NCA are: the KNU: All Burma Students’ Democratic Front; Arakan Liberation Party; Chin National Front; Democratic Karen Benevolent Army; Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council; Pa-O National Liberation Organisation; and Shan State Army-South.
Meanwhile on Monday, the US embassy in Rangoon released a statement, saying it is “deeply concerned by the escalating violence” in Kachin and Shan states, and called for all sides to show restraint and allow “immediate, unfettered humanitarian access” to those affected by conflict in the northern region and throughout the country.