Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

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The Chin Progressive Party (CPP) and the Chin National Party (CNP), two of the main political entities in the western Myanmar state, are to merge into one party which will be called the Chin National Progressive Party (CNPP), according to a report by Khonumthung, a Chin news group.

The report quoted Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, the CNP General Secretary, as saying that documents relating to the merger will be completed by July for submission to Myanmar’s Election Commission (EC).

The decision to merge the two parties was reportedly taken at a meeting in April; however the announcement was delayed because of bureaucratic requirements set down by the EC.

The CPP and CNP won seats in the 2010 general elections in Chin State, and the coalition plans to contest the general election state-wide in 2015, Khonumthung said.

Another major Chin news agency, Chinland Guardian, made no mention of the merger.

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  2. Chin rebels sign 27-point agreement with Burma govt
Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

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The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator, Ashok Nigam, has confirmed that a UN-led convoy has been allowed to deliver humanitarian assistance to people displaced in areas beyond Myanmar armed forces’ control in Kachin State for the first time in almost a year.

Nigam acknowledged the cooperation of the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organization in permitting the 10-truck aid convoy which departed Bhamo on June 12 June for Maija Yang, carrying food, household kits, and hygiene and sanitation supplies.

In a statement on Friday, the UN said the relief supplies should reach about 5,100 people displaced in multiple camps along the route before it returns to Bhamo by June 16.

“The cross-line convoy represents a positive step forward by the Government to help all people in need across Kachin State. It is crucial for this convoy to be the first of many, and that regular and unimpeded access to all people displaced in Kachin State is sustained,” said Nigam, who also expressed hope that this will be “an encouraging sign of positive progress in Kachin State, following closely in the footsteps of recent peace talks held in Myitkyina in late May.”

Since June 2011, fighting between the Kachin Independence Organization and the Myanmar army has forced an estimated 100,000 people from their homes.

For more background:

  1. UN calls for access to Kachin IDPs in winter months
  2. UN revise Kachin aid plan
Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

RCSS/ SSA chairman Lt-Gen Yawd Serk [Ywet Sit], second from left, meets with Shan Herald News Agency editor Khun Sai (center) and SNLD chairman Khun Htun Oo, second from right, at the SNLD office on June 12, 2013. Photo: Hong Sar / Mizzima

Representatives of the Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) plan to meet in Yangon within the next few days to discuss solutions to their political differences and seek a common approach to constitutional reform.       

“Our purpose is to work out how we can cooperate on solving political issues,” said RCSS/ SSA central committee member Sai Hla.

Speaking to Mizzima, he said that reformation of the 2008 constitution will be discussed extensively.

Sai Nyunt Lwin, the general secretary of the SNLD, confirmed that the meeting would go ahead, but said that no date or venue had yet been fixed.

Sai Hla said that the RCSS/ SSA, formerly known as the Shan State Army- South, would raise the issue of a “Panglong Conference”, a summit aimed at reinforcing ethnic parties’ wishes to adopt a federal system in Myanmar.

Related articles:

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  2. SNLD party leader calls for more gov’t decentralization
  3. Shan army chiefs meet Thein Sein for refugee resettlement talks
Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

 RCSS/ SSA  Chairman Lt-Gen Ywet Sit (left) gestures as he speaks with Myanmar President Thein Sein during talks on Monday, June 10, 2013. PHOTO: President's Office

Myanmar President met with representatives of the Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) including its chairman, Lt-Gen Ywet Sit, on Monday in Naypyitaw where they discussed the resettlement of Shan refugees from third countries, said Sai Hla, an RCSS/SSA central committee member.

“The president said he will enact rehabilitations gradually,” said Sai Hla. “He also said that he would hold further dialogue on the issue, including the issue of creating identity cards for those migrants who return.”

He said no fixed date has been made for the next round of talks.

As a consequence of years of war in southern Shan state, some 500,000 Shan have sought work abroad, the vast majority in neighboring Thailand, while more than 10,000 people from Shan State are internally displaced persons or IDPs.

The spokesman of the RCSS/ SSA, previously known as the Shan Sate Army- South, said that Monday’s negotiations were aimed at building mutual trust, allowing the RCSS/SSA to conduct business, and cooperation in antidrug efforts. They also spoke about forming monitoring groups as part of the process of bringing peace back to the eastern state, he said.

Sai Hla said the Shan group urged the president to revoke the outlaw status that has been imposed on the RCSS/ SSA, to which Thein Sein responded that it would be discussed only when every armed group in the country had signed ceasefire agreements.

Also present at the meeting were minister Aung Min of the government’s Peace-working Committee and some
deputy ministers. The RCSS/ SSA were represented by Lt-Gen Ywet Sit, consultant Hkun Sai, Brig-Gen. Aung Htwe of the Peace Implementation Committee, and some central committee members.
 
Both sides signed a ceasefire agreement on December 2, 2011. Sai Hla said that more than 70 battles have occurred in southern Shan state since the ceasefire. This is the seventh time the Shan army has met with the president for talks since 2011.

Related articles:

  1. RCSS-SSA and Government reached 12-point peace agreement
  2. Hostilities resume in Shan State
Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

The conflict has disrupted education for Kachin schoolchildren.  (Photo: RANIR / Facebook)

Despite the signing of a seven-point preliminary peace agreement between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Myanmar government last month, many children in refugee camps in the strife-stricken state are unable to attend school, according to the Kachin Peace Network (KPN).

At an event in Yangon on Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the Myanmar army’s attack on the KIO, Khon Ja of the KPN told Mizzima that about 40,000 children had not received school education since fighting broke out.

“This year, children in refugee camps in Maija Yang area [in Kachin State] could not have formal education. Last year, Pan-ye-lan, a charity group, provided school books and support, so the conditions were better,” said Khon Ja.

The camps are suffering from a lack of teachers and proper school buildings, said Aung Min Naing, a Kachin peace activist. Currently, children have to study at makeshift schools, he said.

Related articles:

  1. US diplomats follow peace talks in Myitkyina
  2. Eight child soldiers freed in Kachin State, says ILO
Written by Published in Ethnic Issues

The Myanmar government’s peace delegation and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) held peace talks in Kachin capital Myitkyina on May 28, 2013, the first time the two sides have sat at the negotiating table inside Myanmar. Photo: Mizzima

Two assistants of US Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell traveled to Kachin State capital Myitkyina this week to meet leaders of Kachin civic groups following peace talks between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).

Mang Seng Tu, a member of the Kachin Lawyer’s Group which participated in last weeks’ negotiations in the state capital, said that the American envoys’ visit indicates “they are still watching over the peace negotiations even though they did not participate at the meeting, and that they will always be in it [the process].”

PCG Representative San Aung said the US envoys met with the Kachin Consultative Assembly, the Kachin Baptist Convention, the Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) and Shan social organizations.

US Embassy spokesman Mike Quinlan confirmed to Mizzima on Friday that the meetings had taken place and said that the parties discussed a full range of issues including the ongoing government-KIO peace talks.

News agencies have reported that the US, the UK and the UN were excluded from the talks at the insistence of China, a claim the Chinese Embassy in Yangon has refuted.

For more background:

  1. Myanmar govt and KIO sign 7-point agreement