Laiza's Spirit for Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement
A 9-member Karen National Union delegation led by President General Mutu Sae Poe, left KNU Supreme Headquarters on July 19, 2014 to participate at the Ethnic Armed Resistance Organisations Conference held in Laiza, Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) Headquarters from July 24-26, 2014.
The KNU delegation was chosen by Central Standing Committee members at the recent CSC meeting (14-16 July) in Law Khee Lar, Hpa-an District, Karen State. The delegation included KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Sae Poe, General Secretary P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, Central Executive Members P’doh Saw Tah Doh Moo and P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung, Standing Committee Members Major General Saw Isaac and Major Saw Tamla Thaw, President Secretary Saw Tamula, General Secretary's Assistant Saw Nimrod and President Security Personal Saw Kyi Moo.
The KNU delegation arrived at Yangon in the late evening of July 19 where they spent the night before continuing their journey to Myitkyina the following day. They arrived at Myitkyina Airport the afternoon of 20 July where they were warmly welcomed by the Kachin community leaders and the Kachin Peace Creation Group.
On July 21, 2014 around 1:30 pm, they departed from Myitkyina and travelled to Laiza, KIO Headquarters arriving around 4 pm. The KNU delegation passed through Burmese army camps, checkpoints and abandoned villages before entering KIO controlled areas. The fighting between KIO and the Burmese army has greatly affected the civilians who are in the middle of the conflict.
When the KNU delegation entered into the main street of Laiza city, on route to the reception hall, a long line of KIA soldiers, civilians, students and children sang, shouted and waved ethnic armed organizations' flags, warmly welcoming the delegations. "May the Ethnic Armed Conference succeed and peace in the ethnic areas now" and "May the spirit of Laiza be with you" were the slogans that echoed from the street to the main reception hall.
When entering the reception hall, high-ranking leaders of the KIO and KIA received the delegations at a formal reception ceremony. P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win while introducing the KNU delegation at the reception said, "I am very honoured to receive a warm welcome from the KIO leaders and the Kachin people. I hope the upcoming conference will achieve good results for us all".
Welcome Dinner for NCCT Members
Today, Burma's ethnic senior leaders, who form the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), arrived from across Burma at Laiza to attend the NCCT Members' Summit on July 24 – 26, 2014.
The 16 NCCT Members are Arakan Army (AA), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), Arakan National Council (ANC), Chin National Front (CNF), Democratic Karen Benevolence Army (DKBA), Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), Karen National Union (KNU), Karen National Union/ Karen National Liberation Army (Peace Council) – KNU/KNLA PC, Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Myanmar National Democracy Alliance Army (MNDAA), New Mon State Party (NMSP), Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Palaung State Liberation Front/ Taang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA), Shan State Progressive Party Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), and Wa National Organisation (WNO).
Later at 5 pm, the NCCT members were invited to attend a welcome dinner hosted by Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). KIO senior leaders including the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Commander in Chief joined the welcome dinner.
Dr. La Ja General Secretary of KIO, speaking on behalf of the Chairman of KIO, in his opening dinner address to the ethnic leaders said, “KIO hopes the summit which starts tomorrow will bring fruitful results”. He also encouraged the ethnic leaders to openly discuss their differences in order to resolve ethnic causes peacefully in the Peace Process of Burma.
The NCCT Members Summit will begin on the 24 July and is expected to last for few days.
Note: On the first day of the summit (24/7/2014), which started at 9.00am until 4.00pm, NCCT discussed setting up a Managing Committee for the summit. The result was the formation of a (16) members Managing Committee comprising of one person from each of the 16 ethnic armed organizations, led by KNU Chairman General Saw Mutu Sae Poe. The Managing Committee will manage the smooth running of the meeting; give decisions on the preparatory agenda of the meeting proposed by NCCT, and will select the rotary chairperson who will chair the meetings. The decision making process during the meeting will use consensus through consultation on the issues raised.
The summit officially started on the 25 July and will be chaired by Chairman Zaung Karaung of the KIO; vice-chairs are Khaing Soe Naing Aung from ALP and Dr. Za Hlei Thang from CNF.
KNU Chairman's Opening Speech
Minglabah. Let me give my best wishes to all the leaders of the Ethnic Nationality Armed Groups, representatives and observers attending this NCCT Members Summit, to be happy and healthy both physically and spiritually. At this important time, I’m very glad and honoured to meet all the leaders at this summit.
To fulfill the original aim of the Karen National Union that is to solve the political problems through peaceful political means, the Karen National Union is collectively working to gain a nationwide ceasefire agreement in this country. In addition, as this is the national cause for the entire nation, we have to negotiate within our organisation, with other organisations, as well as, our alliances and our enemies. We have to keep focus the whole time and work on the process, like the one who is walking on the tightrope.
To solve the political problems through peaceful political means is a political struggle. In this struggle, we have to base on dialogue and negotiation. In the negotiations we cannot be based on subjectivism and we need to be cautious and avoid dogmatism. As we need to ‘put ourselves in their shoes’ we need to construct realistic work and the right mechanism. In addition, as the nature of negotiation, we have to compromise and even though we do not get full percent of what we want, a good result is that both will not lose but will have a win-win situation.
We must be aware that today’s political landscape gives us a time limit. The ceasefire and the political dialogue resulting in constitutional change, to establish a federal union, which is the aspiration of all the ethnic nationalities, is the emerging condition we experience at the present time. In order to achieve the aspiration of our ethnic nationalities we need to consider the leaders who want reform within the state, the supporting groups and the active participation of the people, international interests, and the real situation of geo-politics. To add more, be aware that today’s Peace Process is not the same as the previous ceasefire dialogues held in the history of Burma. Therefore, each and every of our organisation while maintain its status quo needs to work forcibly and bravely for the emergence of a better process. From this stage, we need to consider seriously how to implement in order to achieve the political transformation that we desire. Both sides need to overcome existing doubts and mistrust between us and through creating trust building mechanisms and following together.
To overcome all the difficulties, the unity of all the ethnic nationalities is inevitably necessity. But speaking about unity only as a slogan, time after time, is not workable. We must consider the basic principle and model to be able to achieve unity. For example, let say – in establishing a federal union giving common benefits, we must sign the ceasefire agreement that can begin the political dialogue. During this process to establish a federal union the implementation must be done through cooperation. Because of this cooperation we will have mutual understanding, and the result will be unity. In fact, unity is a fruitful result of working together.
The NCCT that was formed by the ethnic nationalities armed groups has been working on the nationwide ceasefire for more than eight months to achieve the fruitful result of unity. However no concrete result is yet obtained. Nobody can say definitely how long it will take to discuss (1) vocabularies, (2) contents and, (3) the concept of the draft that is being negotiated. What we can say exactly is that a long-term stagnation without progress cannot be good for all. Especially the political forces within the country, political parties and people who wish to amend the constitution are waiting for us. In this important meeting for national reconciliation, we need the emergence of a good result to be able to continue further.
Hence, each organisation must maintain their preliminary agreement obtained. At the same time, if we select one out of many options, we will need time for discussion between ethnic nationalities, government, military, and parliament to consult, calculate and decide. Nevertheless, these are the means that we can try. I want you to think about three specific options out of many. You can consider and chose one out of the three or a combination.
Agree on the articles of the nationwide ceasefire agreement, which is negotiating now that is based on the principle of equality. Sign this agreement, and continue to the political dialogue. But the agreement concerning separation of troops, interim matters, independent neutral monitoring mechanisms and military code of conduct must also be obtained.
The challenge for our unity that is, “Those who are ready can sign, but the rest shall sign later” is very dangerous. Therefore, no need to elaborate on it.
Negotiating for the nationwide ceasefire agreement, and trying to agree on the framework for political dialogue are processes that should be started simultaneously.
It is important that one should not make hindrance to stop this Peace Process. In order to be able to continue the Peace Process, political dialogue must be made simultaneously with the ceasefire process. This shall bring a positive result to all concerned people, all political parties and all civil society organisations. It is necessary to overcome all hindrances. Because all have a strong desire to begin the political dialogue.
In order to fulfill the aspiration of all parties concerned, let me mention one of the quotations from Nelson Mandela. He said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then your enemy shall become your partner”. Therefore, be aware that all ethnic nationalities armed organisations have continuously demanded to resolve the political problems through political means in our history and, let us start this political dialogue and process with our enemy, which has fought with us for more than sixty years.
In conclusion, let us all be mindful that the political time and tide waits for no man. So let us negotiate and make an active and positive participation to establish a new country bringing a new culture that values unity in diversity.
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