(Analysis) Inside Accounts of Myanmar Army Bilateral Ceasefire Extension, But Leaves Arakan Army Behind

Villagers running out of Ngya Sa Yin village in Mibya township while Myanmar solders shelling and jet fighter bombing in April 2020
Sittway. May 10, 2020
Myanmar Army issued statement on May 9 and declared unilateral ceasefire for three months, starting from May 10 to August 31.

The statement said the ceasefire covers all regions except terrorist designated organization (s) operating region. 

The statement said the army acted upon the calls of UN Secretary General for global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic curbing. The statement listed six conditions on ethnic armed organizations to follow during the ceasefire period. Otherwise the military will take necessary actions. 

The sixth condition said all armed organizations under the jurisdiction of ceasefire regions cannot destroy public administrative mechanism, transportation roads, and general public life and property. 

On the other hand, Myanmar government initiated by National Reconciliation and Peace Center via ethnic armed organizations urged Arakan Army to take parts in combating Covid-19 in the conflict zones. 

But the government did not issue any official statement. Only private media outlets wrote about it. 

Local analysts and Napypaytaw inside sources provided different opinions on the army ceasefire extension. 

“It is a mere reaction and whitewash of the army and the government to defend ICJ quarterly report before the international court in The Hague,” an analyst in Sittway, who does not want to publish his name for security reason, said. 

An Inside observer in Naypaytaw, who remains anonymous, said, “Myanmar looks very ugly and exposes bad image where only aggressive war on its own citizens exists and increase of civilian casualties amid Coviid-19 threat that mounts the UN rights expert to call for a fresh investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity into the army and wide publicity of international presses. Then the government and army reacted but differently because they got no other choices. The reactions were contradicted against each other. When the government called AA for cooperation, the army put it aside by giving reason of designated terrorist organization.”

He continues, “What is different between? Both the government and the army declared AA as terrorist organization. But government tried to work with it when the army marginalized AA. It shows the weakness of leaderships of the government and the army. Both lost their faces in the nation and international community.”

Myanmar army used to declare unilateral ceasefire last years and extended a number of times but AA was excluded. Even worse, military operations have been increasing every time the ceasefire declared and suppression over civilians that results hundreds of villagers killed. 

Many analysts see this ceasefire initiation is no difference from the previous ones. 

“It is out of realistic act to declare ceasefire where is no military fight but leave the war zone, Rakhine State on out of the truce,” Sittway analyst said. 

He continues, “Domestically, military tensions are high in Karen and Kachin. The army is very concerned their ability of fighting in several fronts while struggling to contain AA advance in the west. This ceasefire extension is to concentrate war against AA.” 

In fact, ethic armed organizations that signed ceasefire with the governments are losing confidence on the government and its ability or either lack of will to settle political agreement. 

August is important for the national election commission to decide whether national election will be held in northern parts of Rakhine state amid war escalation. It is a great deal of test for NLD government and democracy transition. 


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