Northern Alliance Calls For Halt to Tatmadaw Military Offensives

The clashes are occurring during a period in which negotiations should have been held, the groups say.

By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Three members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups released a statement on Monday calling on government forces to end ongoing military offensives taking place during the period in which negotiations should be held.

“The Burma Army has launched a military offensive in the Arakan Army’s area, the Kokang area and our Ta’ang area. That’s why we cannot avoid clashes,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, who is in charge of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) information department, told NMG. “Dialogue and negotiations are delayed because of the military offensives launched by the Burma Army. It can impact mutual trust. Therefore, we call for the halt to all military offensives,” he explained.

The demand comes from the TNLA, as well as the Arakan Army (AA) and the ethnic Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The Northern Alliance has been negotiating with the Tatmadaw regarding a draft proposal for a preliminary ceasefire agreement, but meetings have been delayed over disputes regarding the location of meetings.

“They want to hold a meeting inside Burma but we want to hold the meeting in China or in the border area,” Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said. “We want to hold the meeting in an area that is secure for us. They proposed to meet inside Burma. Therefore, we have yet to hold the meeting.”

U Maung Maung Soe, an ethnic affairs analyst, told NMG that the agenda for the potential meeting is also going to be difficult to determine.

“For the Northern Alliance group, the Rakhine military front line is a major problem. This problem will be very difficult to solve if the army doesn’t accept the presence of AA forces in Rakhine State,” he said.

Monday’s statement accused the military of provoking conflict in the territories under control of Northern Alliance members during both the negotiation period and the period of the Burma Army’s own unilateral ceasefire, which includes northern Burma but not Rakhine State.

Clashes have been intensifying in Rakhine State between the Tatmadaw and the AA, but have also been breaking out in northern Shan State, which is included in the unilateral ceasefire.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw said that the TNLA had clashed with the Burma Army every day in Kutkai Township from August 4-11 except for August 7. On August 7, the MNDAA reportedly fought government forces in northern Shan State. The Northern Alliance estimated that there had been at least 10 clashes between its members and the Burma Army during the first week of August.

Representatives of government’s Peace Commission and the Northern Alliance met in Muse, northern Shan State, on April 30. Even though they agreed to hold further talks, they have yet to hold another meeting because of disagreements over where the discussions would be held.