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BRIEFINGPAPERNO.

12 FEBRUARY2013

ALLIEDINWAR,DIVIDEDINPEACE
T HE F UTUREOF E THNIC U NITYIN B URMA
On 20 February 2013, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) an 11 member ethnic alliance 1 met with the Burmese Governments Union Peace WorkingCommittee(UPWC)attheHoliday Inn, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The meeting, supported by the Nippon Foundation, was an attempt by Government negotiators to include all relevant actors in the peace process.TheUNFCisseenasoneofthelast remaining actors to represent the various armed ethnic groups in the country (for more information see BP No.6 Establishing a Common Framework) and has frequently sought to negotiate termsasaninclusiveethnicalliance. ThealliancewasformedatatimeofseriousconcernamongstethnicceasefiregroupsinrelationtotheBorder GuardForceissuewhichmanybelievedthreatenedtheirexistence.Consequently,twoformerceasefiregroups theKIOandtheNMSPalliedwithnonceasefiregroupsliketheKarenNationalUniontoformanallinclusive bulwarkagainsttheGovernmentwhichwastoincludetheformationofasinglefederalarmy. AftertheRestorationCouncilofShanState/ShanStateArmySouth(RCSS/SSA)helditsfirstmeetingwiththe Burmesegovernmentonthe19November2011andagreedtoanominalceasefire,anumberofotherarmed ethnicgroupsfollowedsuit.WhiletheRCSS/SSAhadnotbeenamemberoftheUNFCothergroupsthathad been founding members, including the Karen National Union (KNU), Chin National Front (CNF), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and the New Mon State Party (NMSP), soon made individual agreements withtheGovernment. While the UNFC had agreed, albeit begrudgingly, individual members could negotiate as single entities, the various peace processes began to fracture the unity of the organisation as individual members have been unable to find a truly common consensus in relation to negotiations with the Government. While the UNFC couldhaveassumedthemantleofconsolidationandpromotingethnicunity,ithasprimarilyreliedonissuing statementssupportiveofethnicunitybuthasfailedtoacttocementit.

1 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan

Perhapsoneofitsmostimportantactions,inrelationtounity,wasitsparticipationataconferenceofarmed ethnic movements held from the 2628 February 2012. The conference, attended by members of the KNU, KIO,KNPP,CNF,RCSS,NMSP,andPNLO,agreedtoacommonframeworktoguidemembersinthenegotiation process. 2 Theparticipantsagreedathreestagepeaceplan: 1. 2. 3. Ceasefire, Implementationofagreements PoliticalDialogue

Itwasalsoagreedthataworkinggroupwouldbeformedtofurtherdevelopacommonsetofprinciplesand plans for the peace process. As a result, the Working Group on Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) was formed in June 2012. The WGEC consists of representatives from the 7 states plus advisers and, following an Ethnic Nationalities Conference in September 2012, representatives from Civil Society Organizations (2each from youth, women and issuebased CBOs). 3 The group, which is supported financially by the EuroBurmaOffice, meetsmonthlytoupdatemembersanddiscussthepeaceprocess. 4 As a result of the various WGEC meetings, UNFC members ostensibly agreed, at a September 2012 ethnic conference,thatthefollowingsixpointswouldneedtobeaddressedforthepeaceprocesstomoveforward: 1. MeetingofarmedandcivilsocietyorganizationstolaydownpointstobeincludedintheFramework forPoliticalDialogue. MeetingbetweentheUniongovernmentandthearmedmovementsrepresentativestoestablishthe FrameworkforPoliticalDialogue Conferencesoftheethnicpeopleinstateandregions Anationalconferenceoftheethnicnationalities AUnionconferenceheldinthePanglongSpiritandparticipatedbyequalnumberofrepresentatives fromtheethnicforces,democraticforcesandthegovernment,toagreeandsigntheUnionAccord APrecisetimeframeforthepeaceprocess

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TheUNFCfinallymetwithGovernmentnegotiatorUAungMinon9November2012inChiangMai,Thailand. Atthismeetinganinformalagreementwasreachedthatstated: 1. 2. 3. Resolvepoliticalissuesbypoliticalmeans Governmentshouldholdpoliticaldialoguewitharmedgroupscollectivelyandnotseparately DiscussthefollowingtopicsduringtheupcomingformalmeetingintheMyanmarPeaceCenter(MPC) inYangon:frameworkforpoliticaldialogue,talkingpointsoragenda,timeline,technicalassistance andlogistics

AccordingtopeacenegotiatorNyoOhnMyint,discussingthemostrecentmeeting,inFebruary2013:

2 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan

Primarilytheywilldiscussframeworkforstartingthepeaceprocess,beginningwith:addressingways toadvancepoliticaldialogue;thedivisionofrevenueandresourcesbetweenthecentralgovernment andtheethnicstates;andhowtomaintaincommunicationchannelsforfurthertalks. 5 KhunOkker,whoattendedthemeeting,suggestedthattheFebruarymeetingwasprimarilyatrustbuilding exercise for the UNFC and the Government. While individual armed groups had spoken to U Aung Min throughout their negotiation processes and some had already built up trust with the negotiation team. He believed that the UNFC would be more cautious in its approach in relation to the peace process, especially consideringthecontinuingclasheswithUNFCmembersincludingtheKIOandSSPP/SSA

DIVISIONSWITHINTHEARMEDETHNICRESISTANCEMOVEMENT
WhileallarmedethnicgroupshaveparticipatedintheWGECmeetingsandgenerallyagreewithUNFCpolicy, manyareunwillingtorisktheirownseparatepeaceagreementsinthenameofethnicunity.Sinceitssigning of agreements with the government, the Chin National Front has gradually moved away from the UNFC. AccordingtoUNFCJointGeneralSecretary2,KhunOkker,theCNFagreementwasdesignedtobeamodelfor allethnicgroups,and,hadtheagreementfailed,theCNFsstrengthpoliticallyandmilitarilywouldnothave been a serious issue for the Government. However, he notes, that realistically the model is not suitable for much larger groups. 6 Regardless, the CNF have seen their agreement with the Government as relatively successful,and,unlikeothergroups,theemphasisfortheCNFisprimarilytheneedfordevelopmentasthe state has seen only limited armed engagement with the Burma Army over the past decade. 7 In fact, no representativesoftheChinNationalFrontwerepresentattheFebruarymeetingduetothecelebration,for thefirsttime,ofChinNationalDay. TheUNFC,andperceivedethnicunityasawhole,wasalsodealtamajorblowattheendofDecember2012at theKNUs15thCongress.HardlineleaderswhohadbeensupportiveofUNFCpolicieswerereplacedbymore moderateleaderswhowouldshifttheirpositionawayfromthealliance.TheUNFCsViceChairman2,David Thackerbaw, who had previously been Vice President of the Karen National Union, lost his position in the congress,and,whilestillholdingtheportfolioofallianceaffairs,hasnorealpoliticalmandatewithintheKNU. GeneralMutuSayPo,thenewlyelectedKNUChairman,isseenbysomeasbeingtooclosetotheGovernment, and, it has been suggested, that the Government might try and use him to sway other ethnic leaders and thereforefurtherdecreasetheinfluenceoftheUNFC. 8 AccordingtoaGovernmentstatement,GeneralMutu hadaftermeetingwiththeGovernmentinJanuary2013: ...expressedKNU'sstrongdesiretobuildpeaceonceasefireandnegotiation,guaranteeingthatKNU hasnoplantoreverse. 9 Inaddition,thenewKarenleadershiphaveactedasmediatorsbetweentheGovernmentandtheKIO.On4 February 2013, a meeting was held in Ruili, China, attended by both KNU Chairman Mutu and General SecretaryKweHtooWin.Inaddition,themeetingwasalsoattendedbyBrig.SaiLuoftheRestorationCouncil ofShanStateandHarnYawnghweandVictorBiakLianoftheEuroBurmaOffice.Whilenosolutionhasbeen found to the ongoing conflict, there is strong evidence that armed ethnic groups already within the peace process will act outside of the UNFC to persuade the KIO and SSPP to find an accommodation with the government. Perhapsoneofthebiggestthreatstounityhowever,istheinabilityandinexperienceofUNFCleaderstobe abletoadapttonegotiations.Afterdecadesofconflictandmilitaryruleinthecountry,leadershavefailedto recalibratetothecurrentsituation,andconsequentlyhavefailedtoimplementnewstrategiesinrelationto 3 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan

workingwiththeGovernment.WhiletheUNFChasconsistentlybeenabletoputforwardaveneerofunity, individualmembersarenowbeginningtodistancethemselves.FortheUNFCtoremainrelevantandtoensure thatethnicunityismaintained,theUNFCleadershiphastoreassessitsposition.AsUNFCJointSecretary2, KhunOkker,explains, Itsalwaysthesame,whenevertheGovernmenttalkspeace;we[ethnicgroups]begintoseparate. 10

4 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan

BACKGROUNDTOARMEDETHNICALLIANCESINBURMA
InNovember1952theZinZanAgreementforaceasefirewasreachedbetweentheCPBandtheKNUandthe firstsubstantiveallianceformedbythearmedethnicgroupswastheNationalDemocraticUnitedFront(NDUF) whichwascreatedon16May1959.TheNDUFunitedtheKawthooleiNationalitiesUnitedParty,theNewMon StateParty(NMSP)and,muchtoanumberofrightleaningKNUleadersconsternation,whorefusedtohave anypartinthealliance,theCommunistPartyofBurma(CPB). InMay1970,theNationalUnitedLiberationFront(NULF)wasformedcomprisingUNusPeoplesDemocracy Party (PDP and its armed wing, the Peoples Liberation Army), the KNU, and the New Mon State Party. ThailandallowedtheNULFtosetupcovertbasesonitssideoftheborderatMaeHongSon,MaeSariangand Mae Sot. However, one major stumbling block was the fact thatthe NULF was demanding a Federal Union Republic.Manyethnicleaderssawthisascountertowhattheywere,atthattime,demandingwhichwere their own autonomous states. In 1972, after Karen and Mon requests to have the right of secession were finallyagreedtobyUNu,heresignedandwentintoretirement,leavingthePLAtofendforitself. In May 1973, realising that there was still a need for a committed ethnic nationalities resistance the Revolutionary National Alliance (RNA) was formed by the KNU, Shan State Progress Party, Kayan New Land PartyandtheKarenniNationalProgressivePartyatKawmoora,KarenState,Itsaimwastoestablishagenuine federal union of independent national states based on the principles of equality and national self determination.Bytheendof1973,italsoincludedtheArakaneseresistancemovement,theArakanLiberation Party(ALP)whichbasedrepresentativesinKarenareas.TheKNUbegantrainingthenewforcesatKawmoora where they would join another joint nationalities organisation, the Federal Nationalities Democratic Front (FNDF). This superseded the RNA in 1975 and was an organisation which specifically promoted separate nationalitystatesandrefusedanyBurmanmembership. 10 May 1976, saw the formation of the longest surviving combined ethnic force the National Democratic Front (NDF), formed at Manerplaw, the KNUs new headquarters on the Moei River. The front initially consistedoftheKNU,theNMSP,theKNPP,theALP,theKIO,theShanUnitedRevolutionaryArmy(SURA)*and anumberofothersmallerorganizations.MahnBaZanwaselectedpresidentwhileotherKNUmembersofthe NDFsECincludedPadohBawYuPaw,Secretary,Lt.Gen.TamlaBawandBoSanLin.Themainobjectiveofthe NDFwastoestablishaFederalUnionbasedontherightofdeterminationforallnationalities. 11 November 1988,sawtheformationoftheDemocraticAllianceofBurmacomprisingtheNationalDemocraticFront(NDF), and several prodemocracy groups that supported the armed struggle or had taken up arms (chiefly the All BurmaStudentDemocraticFront). *ActuallyShanStateProgressParty(SSPP)

5 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan

Notes 1 TheUNFCconsistsof11armedgroups:ChinNationalFront(CNF),KarenniNationalProgressiveParty(KNPP), Karen National Union (KNU), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO) Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Arakan National Council (ANC), PalaungStateLiberationFront(PSLF),LahuDemocraticFront(LDU)andWaNationalOrganization(WNO) 2 PresentwereGenMutuSayPoe,KNU,ZipporalSein,KNU,NerdahMya,KNU,KweHtooWin,KNU,KhuOo Reh, KNPP, Gen N. Banla, KIO, Dr Laja, KIO,ZinCung, CNF, Dr Sui Kha, CNF, HkunOkker, PNLO, Nai Han Tha, NMSP,andGenYawdSerk,RCSS/SSA,seeAnsweringquestionsonWGEC,SHAN,9January2013.Inaddition, alsopresentasobserverswererepresentativesfromtheKloHtooBawBattalion,theKNU/KNLAPC,thenon BGFfactionoftheMNDAA(PengDaxun,sonofoustedleaderPengJiasheng),theKNLPandtheKNPLF(BGF) seeDecipheringMyanmarsPeaceProcess,BNI,January2013 3 Resource Persons are Khuensai Jaiyen (SHAN), Daw Shirley Seng (KWAT), Saw Htoo Htoo Lay (Karen), Salai LianH.Sakhong(ENC),Col.KhunOkker(PNLO),CBOrepresentatives,Women:DawMoonNayLi(KWATand WLB), Saw San Nyein Thu (Rakhine Women Union and WLB); Youth: Naw Seng (SYCB Student and Youth Congress of Burma), Kya Yi Shay (Nationalities Youth Forum); Environment: Ko Shwe (KESAN Karen EnvironmentalandSocialActionNetwork),KoSaiSai(BurmaRiverNetwork).StateRepresentatives:SawMya RazaLin(Rakhine),SinWah(Kachin),NawZipporahSein(Karen),NaiHanTha(Mon),KhuOoReh(Kayah),Dr. SuiKha(Chin),Solomon(Shan),Col.PengFa(ShanNorth) 4 AnsweringquestionsonWGEC,SHAN,9January2013 5 Myanmargovtwantsethnicstoagreethreestepplan,Phanida,Mizzima,19February2013 6 PersonalconversationwithKhunOkker,27February,2013 7 PersonalConversationwithLianSakhong,CNFSupremeCouncilMember,12February2013 8 PersonalconversationwithKhunOkker,27February,2013 9 TheinSeinmeetsnewKNUleadership,Mizzima,7January2013 10 PersonalconversationwithKhunOkker,27February,2013 11 KhaingSoeNaingAung,NationalDemocraticMovementofEthnicNationalities.

6 Editor:LianH.Sakhong|Author:PaulKeenan