|Arakan Army delegations led by Col. Kyaw Han attending peace roundtable in Yangon in March 2019.|
AN. Sittway. August 6, 2020.
Myanmar President Office Spokesperson Zaw Htay and non-state ethnic armed organization leaders said Arakan Army (AA) is not invited in the peace conference in Naypaytaw, administrative capital in Myanmar, in third week of August 2020.
The government spokesperson said they will invite 2 key leaders from each of 7 non-ceasefire organizations except Arakan Army.
Zaw Htay said in the press conference two days ago in Naypaytaw, “We have difficulty to invite some of the non-ceasefire organizations because of concern of legality.”
What the spokesperson reference of not inviting some armed organizations was that the government excludes AA from the peace process because AA has been branded as a terrorist organization since March so that it cannot participate in the 21 Panglong Conference that will be held in Naypaytaw from August 19 to 21.
“We have urged the government to invite all non-ceasefire organizations to the conference, but government responded it would not invite AA,” said Naing Aung Mangay, spokesperson of New Mon State Party that signed ceasefire agreement with the government in 2018.
Arakan Army Spokesperson Khine Thu Kha said, “This shows who wants peace and who does not want peace. And, it is up to the hosting government to invite our organization. We said we were willing to participate in the 4thCession of 21 Panglong Conference. Singling out our organization from the conference reveals the government intention that it is unwilling to make peace with us but still practicing divided and conquer policy.”
“Take some but leave other as partiality and non-inclusiveness cannot make peace and reconciliation in Myanmar, the government should take full responsibility of the consequences that practice divided and rule policy towards the ethnic armed forces.”
Analysts predict that members of the Brotherhood Alliance and Kachin Independent Organization (KIO) may not attend the conference without AA.
“Definitely, KIO, TNLA, and MNDAA are pushed into the difficult position since AA, one of their alliance members, is kicked out of the peace conference,” said an Arakanese analyst who wants of keep his name from public for security concern.
Brotherhood Alliance is comprised with Arakan Army, Ta’aug National Liberation Army (TNLA), and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) that have been fighting together for greater autonomy.
The alliance issued the statement on July 21 and said they were willing to participate in the peace conference if their leaderships’ security was guaranteed and under the political guidance of Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC).
KIO and United Wa State Army (UWA) are leading members of FPNCC. It is not yet clear whether UWSA and KIO will attend the peace conference without AA.
TNLA leader Tar Phone Kyaw said his organization and the entire members of Three Brotherhood Alliance will not attend the conference without Arakan Army because he said the alliance has an agreement for collectively negotiate with the government.
The last time AA participated in peace talks with the government was in Shan State in last April, and asked for exchange of Prisoner of War, but Myanmar military refused and said it was attempting to rescue the POWs by its own.
Local people reported AA has captured 120 Myanmar troops and police officers since the civil war began in 2019.
The local sources calculated AA has killed 3,500 Myanmar troops and wounded over 2,000 military personals in two years of civil war. They said 200 AA fighters were also killed.
A Local human rights documentation institute—Arakan Information Center (AIC) reports until July 2020 Myanmar army has killed 285 civilians, injured 570, and arrested 606 villagers since the military operation has been launching in Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State in January 2019.
AIC reports it has registered 45 villagers have been disappeared and 233,451 civilians have been displaced until July 2020.
International community and UN has been calling on Myanmar government and military to halt the violence and resort peaceful solution in Rakhine State. But their calls are listen by none of the Myanmar leaderships.
The latest development of Myanmar government excluding AA from the peace negotiation process gives a clear signal to the entire people of Rakhine that both the Myanmar government and the army still are sticking on the military solution despite death toll of civilians and internally displaced are increasing.
“If the government and military do not want to engage with the Rakhine people, leave us alone. We will rebuild our nation for plural society as ‘Way of Rakhitta’ by our own people. Myanmar government is only exploiting our national resources but share no benefit with our people at all. They had better leave from the Rakhine Land,” said AA Spokesperson Khine Thu Kha.
Both government and military have already lost hearts of the Rakhine people after the military targeting and killing ordinary civilians since the beginning of the military operations in 2019.
In fact, the co-opting AA from the peace process is forcing entire Rakhine populations for little choice but to face off the harsh and cruel oppression and destruction of the civil society-structures by the Myanmar military and the elected government.
AA spokesperson said singling out and discriminating against the Rakhine people from the peace process will help all intra ethnic and different religion communities for more unity in order to defend the lives, liberty, and properties.
The analyst agrees the remarks of AA spokesperson for more unity with different ethnic and religion community due to the government wrong policy that is significantly made for the Arakan Army and Rakhine people.
“You just cannot differentiate between AA and the Rakhine people. They share the same philosophy of being colonized, marginalized, and exploited, and that is why AA is born out of the Rakhine people. They all stake on the same ideology of freedom struggle from the oppression. This strong political sense of the entire populations of Rakhine should be reconsidered by the central government or let them fight for independence,” said the Rakhine analyst.
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