Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic armed group that is still in armed engagement against the Tatmadaw [Burma Army], will only take part in the upcoming Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong, if all ethnic armed groups are equally invited and all are allowed equal rights to discuss and to make decisions.
The TNLA, the armed wing of Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), is one of the ethnic armed groups that did not sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the government yet. It is a member of Northern Alliance, made up of along with Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA).
“According to our policy, regarding the 21st Century Panglong [conference], if all ethnic armed groups are invited equally and are allowed to discuss and decide [at the conference], we are ready to participate. We won’t take part the conference if some groups are left out and some are only invited as observers,” said Lt. Col. Tar Bone Kyaw, General Secretary of TNLA.
It is reported that the non-NCA signatory armed groups are special invitees to the second 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will kick off on February 28.
However, the decision seems to be made for which non-signatory ethnic armed groups will be special invitees to the peace conference at the coming meeting of Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC).
“Currently, in our area, the fighting is still fierce. Tatmadaw has been seriously launching offensive. In such a situation and invitation to sign NCA by Daw Aung Suu Kyi and also to join in the 21st Century Panglon Conference, this cannot be pragmatic political solution. To me, it may not be right political answer,” said TNLA’s Lt. Col Tar Bone Kyaw.
At the first 21st Century Panglong Conference, which was held from August 31 to September 4, 2016, eight NCA-signatory ethnic armed groups and other five non-signatory groups were present. These five non-signatories were Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Shan State Progress Party (SSPP), Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and United Wa State Party (UWSP).
Even though some non-NCA signatories were invited to take part in the peace conference and able to present their papers, the Northern Alliance, including TNLA, AA, and MNDAA, were not invited.
Translated by Aong Jaeneh