By Eleven | 07.05.15
Wa's demand for an independent state received support from some representatives of the ethnic armed forces during a summit in Panghsang in Shan State that concluded Wednesday with a 12-point agreement, a news release says.
The United Wa State Party/ United Wa State Army (UWSA) hosted the summit in Shan State, which is home to its headquarters. The Chinese-speaking Wa Special Region 2 is located in Northern Shan State and uses the Chinese currency renminbi. It has a population estimated at more than half a million.
The region, which is run by the UWSA, declared independence from what was then called Burma and now Myanmar in April 1989, but the country's national government has never recognized the demand.
The summit, which began May 1, included leaders from the 12 ethnic armies and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), which speaks for the armed ethnic groups in ceasefire talks. They discussed the country’s current political situation and peace efforts, and the summit was held as the ethnic leaders evaluate a draft nationwide ceasefire deal.
Those in attendance at the summit came to an understanding that the ongoing conflicts that have plagued Myanmar for more than six decades are the result of political differences between the various ethnic groups and Myanmar's government and can be resolved through political means.
However, for the conflicts to be resolved through political means would require a national ceasefire act that applies equally to ethnic armed forces still fighting the government, participants agreed. The draft nationwide ceasefire deal was negotiated by the Union Peacemaking Work Committee, which represents the government, and the NCCT, and was a key focus of the Panghsan conference.
The summit also declared that in order to achieve a ceasefire deal to end the battles in Northern Myanmar, the government should welcome the intervention of private organisations and China.
The summit also demanded the immediate end to the offensives led by the Myanmar military in Kachin, Ta Ann, Kokkang and Rakhine in Northern Myanmar. The participants condemned what it outlined as human rights violations and torture by the military of those living in the ethnic regions, particularly in armed conflict zones.
As well, the summit called for amendments to the 2008 constitution so democracy, racial equality and personal rights are incorporated into development of a solid federal union. Government committees are currently working on a constitutional amendment bill that will eventually go to Parliament.
Leaders of the various groups represented at the summit also called for regions where non-bama ethnicities live to remain in the Union and coexist with each other. Bama make up the largest ethnic group in the country and is the language spoken.
It was also agreed upon that a group representing all armed forces should be formed in order to engage in political discussions with the government.
In order for the many agreements and requests from the summit to be fulfilled, the UWSA will be hosting similar meetings, the announcement from the summit concludes.
Among the 12 parties attending were representatives from Kachin Independence Organization, Kareni National Progressive Party, Karen National Union, Palaung State Liberation Front, Pa-O National Liberation Organization, New Mon State Party, Arakan Army, Restoration Council of Shan State, Shan State Progressive Party, National Democratic Alliance Army and UWSP. Including observers, there were 65 people in attendance.