Myanmar Government Spokesman Says It Still Opening Peace for Arakan Army; AA Urges the Government to Prove It

IDP children are receiving school books in Mark U donated by local charity organizations and individuals. 
AN. Sittway. August 18, 2020 

Myanmar Government Spokesperson Zaw Htay said the government is still opening peace negotiation with Arakan Army, but AA urges for proof. 

After 7 non-ceasefire organizations announced they would not participate in peace conference in Naypaytaw on August 19-21, Mr. Zaw Htay made a public statement in which government is still considering to talk peace with Northern Alliance, including AA. 

Northern Alliance is comprised with Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independent Army, (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’Aung National Liberation Army (TNLA).

Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) led by United Wa State Army and combined with members of Northern Alliance issued the statement on August 13 and said it was regret Myanmar government excluded AA from the peace conference. 

“Northern Alliance complied it is willing to negotiate with us (government) for three steps peace process. First step is to sign bilateral agreement with AA, KIA, MNDAA, and TNLA. Second step is singing bilateral agreement with individual organization. Then, these four organizations can enter into to NCA (Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement) process,” the government spokesperson said during the peace conference in Nyapaytaw on August 17. 

The spokesperson also gave details of history background how to proceed peace with AA that has been designated as terrorist organization since March. 

He said, “All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF) and Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) were once designated as terrorist organizations, but they were given amnesty before they signed NCA.”

Mr. Zaw Htay’s reference of the history background is AA can fall to similar amnesty if AA signs ceasefire agreement. 

He urged AA to do more works for peace. 
He said, “Statements are not enough but act on placidity.”
He also said government peace negotiation body will discuss further details of this process with the military and parliament.

However, our news agency does not have clear evidence and document of the government spokesperson indication in which he said the peace body received offer of Northern Alliance to the government for ‘4 steps’ peace negotiation process. 

Arakan Army Spokesperson Khine Thu Kha does not have any knowledge about how the issue of Northern Alliance’s compliance of the ‘4 steps’ peace process was coming up at this moment. But he urges Myanmar government to show the willingness of peace with people by deed but not by mere word. Otherwise, the government spokesperson remark is seen as a mere public relationship stunt. 

He said, “Myanmar government and military should build trust with the Rakhine people by proving it is moving forward to practical peace initiation since Rakhine State has been singled out and excluded from the all inclusive ceasefire that the military has declared.”
“In fact, the military clashes are continuing in Rakhine State because Myanmar army has been escalating aggressive military operations by air, navy, and ground forces and constant attacking on AA forces. The attacks need to be stop first. And then, the military has to halt targeting civilians by randomly arresting, stop indiscriminately shelling into villages, and killing detainees in military custody,” he said.  
He said, “These benchmarks are measurable tasks government and military should implement first in order to prove they are truly initiating peace with the Rakhine people. Then we can trust the government is committing in peace-works. Otherwise, we will perceive it is a PR stunt to delude the public and the international community after the government was largely criticized for no show of FPNCC.” 

Local people are reporting Myanmar military has been building up more artillery bases and sending more troops to Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State in recent weeks. 

“Two navy landing crafts with a lot of soldiers and military supplies were firing guns and shells to the villages on left and right sides of Keladan river last night when the navy were heading to far north of the river,” said a *villager in Lat Ma Site village in Ponnaygun township.

Six navy landing crafts are docking in far north of the river on and near Than Phara river interjection after thousands of troops were dropped off. 

Similar reports were made by the villagers from Pyin Wan and Tha Mee Hla villages in north of May Yu River where Myanmar navy dropped off hundreds of troops near their villages. 

“Two landing crafts were docking and transferring 150 troops to our village,” said a *villager from Pyin Wan village last week. 

He reported helicopter was dropping bombs and firing missiles near Ma Nyin Taung village on August 13. 

Villagers from Sittaya village in Minbya township reported 3 civilians including an underage student and a school teacher were wounded by the shell fired from Myanmar military base and landing inside the village on August 15. 

Local human rights organizations have reported Myanmar army is escalating more arrest of civilians in Kyauktaw and Kyaukpyu township in recent days. They said the military has arrested at least one dozen villagers in these two townships.

A local human rights documentation institute—Arakan Information Center (AIC) reports until July 2020, Myanmar army has killed 285 civilians, injured 570, and arrested 606 villagers since the military has been launching offensive operations in Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State in January 2019. 

AIC reports it has recorded 45 villagers have been disappeared, and 233,451 civilians have been displaced until July 2020. 

*Our news agency does not publish the names of villagers for their security concerned. 

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