Truce Talks with Local Govts Unacceptable: UNFC
30 August 2011: Two weeks after Burma’s new President had ‘invited’ ethnic armed resistance groups to hold ceasefire talks with respective local governments, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) has rejected the proposal as being ‘totally unacceptable’ as it will not lead to any real resolution for peace.
While welcoming the overture, the multi-ethnic armed coalition said in a letter to the Burmese government, it considers such an offer only a dishonest ploy by Naypyidaw aimed at undermining the unity and solidarity among the different ethnic armed groups, which have fought the central Burmese government for decades.
Ex-Army General President Thein Sein in his public speech on 17 August said ethnic armed groups should approach respective local governments for peace talks, in a rare gesture that Burma watchers believe was a desperate public relations stunt designed to improve the image of a pariah nation.
“Past experience has taught us well that trying to separately negotiate a ceasefire deal with individual groups will not produce desirable results. We consider this a ploy to undermine the solidarity among the ethnic groups,” the letter reads.
The letter was sent to the Burmese government on Sunday but was only made available to the media today. A copy was also sent to the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had recently offered her personal assistance in the peace process.
The UNFC, which includes some of the largest ethnic armed groups such as the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Army (SSA), argued that problems of armed conflicts and lack of peace are grounded in the denial of fundamental human rights and equality to the non-Burman ethnic groups.
The coalition said it rejects the proposal for peace talks with the local-level governments because their grievances are with the central government and not with local governments, which has no real power and only came into existence only in March 2011 whereas the groups have fought the central government for the last 60 years.
Instead the UNFC proposed that the Burmese government appoint a high level negotiation team with real power to broker comprehensive peace deal with the UNFC as a collective force. The UNFC has appointed its own negotiation team, according to sources inside the coalition.