Northern Alliance Calls for Detainee Release, Third-party Mediation

Saturday, December 22, 2019

The Northern Alliance proposed a plan to release detainees held by both sides in its conflict with the Burma Army during its latest meeting with the Burmese government’s Peace Commission, held in the Chinese city of Kunming on December 15.

The four-member alliance of ethnic armed groups also called for a third party to mediate in efforts to resolve the conflict, according to sources who attended the meeting.

“They proposed the release of all detainees arrested by both sides, and also the involvement of a third nation in the conflict-mediation process in case any problems arise. I think they will negotiate for these things,” Sam Awng, of the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG), told NMG.

The two sides agreed to meet again in the last week of January 2020 to continue their talks, which are aimed at reaching a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

The talks had stalled for nearly three months until last Sunday’s meeting in Kunming. The two sides last met in Kengtung, in eastern Shan State, on September 17. That meeting ended with an agreement to hold another round of talks, but neither side could agree on a venue until China intervened with an offer to host the meeting.

The resumption of talks was welcomed by the Kachin PCG, which has worked to end the ongoing conflict in northern Burma.

“It’s much better to have a meeting than to have no meetings. If they don’t meet, they won’t be able to establish trust. If they can meet frequently, they can build trust,” said the Kachin PCG’s Sam Awng.

The government and the Northern Alliance reached a seven-point agreement at the Kengtung meeting, which included discussions on the repositioning of army troops, a military code of conduct, the opening of communication channels and liaison offices, talks aimed at establishing a framework for negotiations on signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), and efforts to resolve the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“We won’t change our agenda for discussion. We will discuss signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement, the return of IDPs and a resettlement program, and military affairs issue. We haven’t changed any part of the agenda,” Col. Naw Bu, who is in charge of the information department of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), told NMG.

The main obstacles between the government, army and Northern Alliance are the repositioning of troops and the formation of a committee to monitor armed conflicts after the NCA is signed.

The Burma Army has called on the members of the Northern Alliance to withdraw their troops from their current position.

The four members of the Northern Alliance are the KIO/Kachin Independence Army, the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.