It is necessary to have all ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) involved in the 21st Century Panglong Conference, according to a statement released by the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the predominant ethnic Mon resistance group.
The statement, issued on July 2, asserted that complete inclusion was needed for the national-level conference to succeed and for the establishment of a genuine, democratic federal union enshrining self-determination and nationwide equality.
The NMSP statement also expressed satisfaction with the NLD-led government’s “hard work” towards convening the 21st Century Panglong Conference, a union-level peace event slated for August, and for implementing systemic political changes in keeping with early assurances.
“It has been almost 70 years that ethnic armed groups have been engaged in armed resistance and civil war because [the Burma government] did not follow through on promises made in the Panglong Agreement led by General Aung San. We would like to see all ethnic armed groups involved in the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Conference,” said Nai Hongsar, vice-chairman of NMSP.
The statement went on to call on the military to strengthen trust by immediately halting all offensive attacks in areas administered by Kachin, Kokang, Palaung, Arakan, Shan and other armed ethnic resistance groups. In addition, it said, the union peace conference must be transparent and held with representatives of a new joint monitoring committee (JMC) established after a genuine nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), including all groups, is inked.
“It is necessary to establish a monitoring group like this that offers the chance to keep an eye on the Burma Army, for ceasefire groups to avoid clashes and to know which group is right or wrong. Monitoring groups are most effective when members come from government, ethnic minority, and mediation groups. If the [monitoring] groups are composed only of members from the government and ethnic armed groups, there is a higher possibility for fighting to break out. Having mediators is the best way,” said Nai Hongsar.
The latest state-level Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-S) was founded on June 30 at the Southeast Command Headquarters on the outskirts of Mawlamyine, formerly known as Moulmein, the capital of Mon State.
An Ethnic Armed Organization Summit for signatory and non-signatory groups will reportedly be held this month in Mai Ja Yang, Kachin State, to address issues surrounding the upcoming conference. The chairman of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) is also scheduled to meet State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on July 18.