Three Members of Northern Alliance Declare Ceasefire
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Monday, September 9, 2019
Less than a month after carrying out a series of attacks on the Burma Army that triggered a major escalation of the conflict in northern Shan State, three members of the Northern Alliance have declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire in the region.
The three ethnic armed groups made the declaration on Monday, saying that the move was intended to pave the way for “practical and effective reconciliatory talks for lasting peace in the Union of Myanmar.”
“We expect this statement will help political negotiations. We declared a unilateral ceasefire that will last from September 9 to October 8. In particular, we are going to implement political negotiations to end the civil war,” Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw, the information officer for the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), told NMG.
According to the statement, the TNLA and its two alliance partners, the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), will halt all offensive operations for the duration of the ceasefire period.
The statement was released both in Burmese and Chinese languages.
The groups vowed not to carry out any pre-emptive attacks against Burma Army targets, but added that they would not hesitate to resume fighting if government forces take hostile action against them.
“Should the Myanmar Tatmadaw [Burma Army] conduct any operation or military attacks/assaults on us, or on the areas where we are stationed, use heavy artillery guns in raids, or use attack jet fighters, bombers and helicopter gunships, in such cases, we will make befitting defensive attacks at any moment or any place for self-defense within the areas under our control,” the statement said.
“If they continue military offensives, we will respond to their offensives with our defensive operations,” Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw said.
On August 31, the Burma Army extended its unilateral ceasefire in five of its Regional Military Commands, including Shan State, to September 21. It was the fourth extensions since the ceasefire was first declared in December of last year.
Fighting has been intense in northern Shan State since the AA, TNLA and MNDAA carried out coordinated attacks on Burma Army targets in Pyin OO Lwin of Mandalay Region and northern Shan State on August. The AA and the Burma Army have also engaged in fierce clashes in Rakhine State, which is not covered by the ceasefire.
Despite the fighting, the Burmese government and all four Northern Alliance members, including the Kachin Independence Army, met in the eastern Shan State city of Kengtung on August 31 to discuss the situation and the possibility of signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
The government and the alliance agreed to meet again on September 16-17. The meeting venue is still under discussion.