ALP Likely to Cancel Plans to Open Liaison Office In Paletwa
25 July 2012: The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) may not continue its attempts to open a liaison office in Paletwa town following hints of disapproval expressed in the southern parts of Chin State.
The party’s plan to set up a liaison office in the Chin territory is believed to be called off in the near future, according to sources close to the government.
It is claimed that the name ‘Paletwa’ was mistakenly understood to be one of the towns in Rakhine State by the peace delegation of Burma’s government during the signing process of April’s preliminary peace agreement with ALP.
One of the Khumi Chin leaders told Chinland Guardian: “We heard that Burma’s peace team were only focusing on the ceasefire agreement at the time of the meeting so much that they didn’t realize Paletwa as a part of Chin State.”
Chin community and political leaders made their ‘unfavourable’ expression against the establishment of ALP’s official presence in Paletwa, saying: “It is not their territory.”
In a recent news piece posted on its website on 13 July, ALP made a description that Paletwa town is in Rakhine State.
Pu No Than Kap, Chin Affairs Minister of Sagaing Division and Chairman of the Chin Progressive Party (CPP), was quoted by Khonumthung news as saying that Rakhine always insisted that Paletwa is included in Rakhine State.
Some Chin leaders accused Burma’s government of creating the cause of problems between Rakhine and Chin people by allowing ALP to set up their liaison office in Chin State.
Salai Ceu Bik Thawng, General Secretary of the Chin National Party (CNP), highlighted the fact that the plan was discussed and decided without any consultation with the government of Chin State.
In the first week of May this year, a Khumi youth group sent a signature petition to Burma’s President Thein Sein in opposition to opening of ALP’s liaison office in Chin State’s Paletwa township, bordering Rakhine State.
Earlier this month amid opposition from the local people, the Arakan Liberation Party made another attempt to open a liaison office in Chin State by organizing a public consultation in Paletwa town with about 20 participants.
It is estimated that more than 15 percent of the whole population in Paletwa Township of Chin State are Rakhine.
In recent weeks, an increasing number of people from Rakhine State including Rohingyas have fled into Paletwa Township following the violent riots.
On 5 April 2012, a preliminary peace agreement was signed between the ALP delegation led by Vice President Khaing Soe Naing Aung and the new government of Burma.
Formed in 1968 and re-organized in 1981 with support from the Karen National Union, the Arakan Liberation Party with the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) as its armed wing, operates in the southern parts of Chin State and in Rakhine State.
Meanwhile, the Chin National Front (CNF), an underground armed group that had fought against Burma’s successive regimes for 23 years, last month opened its liaison office in Matupi Township, adjacent to Paletwa Township, after reaching a preliminary peace agreement with Burma’s government.
Reporting by Peter Lu with Thawng Zel Thang