Shan Public Calls on Armed Groups to Adhere to Ceasefire

Hsipaw villagers say they are ‘living on high alert’ as fighting persists between the RCSS and SSPP despite the declaration of a ceasefire.

By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Shan civil society representatives, parliamentarians and members of the public have called on Shan ethnic armed groups to follow a ceasefire declared on March 20.

Both the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) last week committed to ending clashes between their organizations.

“They need to follow their statement and their promises. I don’t want to speculate on what they are doing. No armed group should cause suffering for the people,” Nang San San Aye, a Shan State parliamentarian from Hsipaw Township’s Constituency (1) told NMG.

The RCSS/SSA declared a unilateral ceasefire, citing hardship created among local communities by fighting as the reason for the move. According to their statement, they said they would stop battling the SSPP/SSA with the exception of actions taken in self-defense.

However, the RCSS/SSA reported on their website Tai Freedom that they clashed with SSPP/SSA in Ner Makhaw village tract in Hsipaw Township, as well as in Namtu Township, on March 25.

The clashes, which occurred in the morning, lasted around one hour, locals said.

“We could hear the sound of guns shooting. No villagers fled, but we are living on alert all the time,” one villager told NMG, adding that tension remains high and soldiers from both the RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA have been seen in the area.

Sai Kham Awng, state parliamentarian from Hsipaw’s Constituency (2), said that “there should not be battles between Shan forces” and pointed out that the most recent bouts of fighting have occurred since the ceasefire statement was published.

“It’s better to make a ceasefire between them. If they have different opinions, it is better for them to negotiate and hold dialogue,” he explained.

NMG tried to contact both the RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA for comment but had not gotten a response at the time of reporting.

According to Nang San San Aye, more than 2,000 civilians have fled from clashes in Hsipaw and Namtu townships since late February.

“Some IDPs [internally displaced people] returned to their villages but they fled again when clashes occurred near their village. The situation is like that,” Nang San San Aye said.

Ko Myo, who works with the social outreach group Volunteers Without Borders (Hsipaw), said that respective armed forces must consider the safe return of IDPs as they move forward.

“There are some IDPs left in Hsipaw. They cannot return home. There are still clashes in the area as of yesterday,” he told NMG on Tuesday. “I’ve heard the sound of guns shooting. I don’t want the Shan forces to clash with one another. I want the Shan forces to be united and to have peace. People have suffered a lot. I want the two forces to hold dialogue to restore peace in the area,” Ko Myo said.