Two of Burma’s largest ethnic armed forces have weighed in on neighbouring conflict in northern Shan State, issuing a statement calling for peace.
The United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army, also known as the Mong La Group, called for an end to the violence that has displaced thousands in Burma’s northeast this year.
Fighting between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) broke out in November 2015, after the latter acceded to Naypyidaw’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The TNLA was cut out of the deal, despite having contributed to the drafting of the document.
A joint-statement released by the UWSA and the Mong La Group on Tuesday urged the warring rebel armies to negotiate. The statement acknowledged a need for ethnic unity and warned against further harm towards villagers.
Since November, more than 1,000 civilians in Namhkam and 4,000 in Kyaukme have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety.
A spokesperson for the UWSA, Kyauk Kaw Arn said: “People are in trouble, they are suffering. We and Mong La Group are concerned. So, we would like to urge the two sides to meet and talk.”
The Burmese army has committed troops to the troubled region where it has engaged in fighting with the TNLA, and warned the SSA-S to stay within the group’s boundaries.
A TNLA representative, Mai Aik Kyaw, said that the army was unaware of the joint statement but is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict with the much-larger SSA-S. According to Mai Aik Kyaw, the TNLA is set for talks brokered by The United Nationalities Federal Council, an umbrella organisation comprised of rebel armies that did not sign on to the 2015 ceasefire deal. A date and a location for talks has not yet been confirmed.