RCSS Chair’s Trip to NCA Anniversary Event Blocked by Military

Monday, October 28, 2019

Meetings concerning Burma’s peace process have been temporarily postponed following the cancellation of Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) chairperson Gen Yawd Serk’s trip to Naypyidaw, RCSS representatives said.

Gen Yawd Serk had planned to attend the fourth anniversary commemoration of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) on Monday, but the Burma Army reportedly blocked his travel.

The trip was going to include meetings of the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM) and the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) following the NCA anniversary.

“JICM and PPST meetings which were going to be held after the fourth anniversary of the NCA, were canceled,” Gen Yawd Serk told media outlets through a translator during a press conference on the Thai-Burma border. The RCSS chair is also the chair of the PPST.

“If the chairman cannot go there, it’s impossible to hold the PPST meeting… the JICM meeting cannot be held if PPST leaders cannot attend the meeting,” Gen Yawd Serk’s translator said at the press conference.

The general described the JICM meeting as “very important,” and said that the barring of his trip by the military suggested that the armed forces “don’t want this meeting to take place.”

He said that the move indicates that the Burma Army “wants to repeal the NCA.”

The RCSS delegation had planned their trip since October 10 with the government’s Peace Commission, and informed them that they would travel from their headquarters at Loi Tai Leng overland through Shan State to Taunggyi and then Naypyidaw.

Maj-Gen Than Hlaing, the commander of the Central-Eastern military command region, blocked the trip by RCSS representatives, citing security concerns, and asked them to travel to Naypyidaw by air from Tachileik in eastern Shan State. Military also asked the Shan people who came to welcome General Yawd Serk to go back to their homes from the Salween river bank.

Gen Yawd Serk said that there appeared to be no communication or negotiation between the government’s peace bodies and the Burma Army, creating difficulties for his organization.

“We already reported in advance to them about our trip. We already negotiated for this trip,” he said of the government.

The proceedings marking the fourth anniversary of the NCA signing were scheduled for October 28. Most of the leaders of the other NCA-signatory ethnic armed organizations had already arrived in Naypyidaw by Sunday to attend the event.