To Hopeland and Back: The 23rd trip

Day Six. Thursday, 10 November 2016

It’s just a military rule under democratic cover.
One EAO leader, 9 November 2016

The Parami Hotel
(Photo: Trip Advisor)
Today, the 5 day workshop of the signatory EAOs begins at the Parami Hotel in Mayangon in preparation for the National level Political Dialogues (ND) due to be launched by the end of the month. And I’m there to talk with the participants, 5 from each EAO, each individual participant responsible for one of the dialogue topics: Politics, Security and Defense, Social, Economic and Land and Natural Resources Management.

 I’m therefore present at the meeting between some foreign busy bodies and two of the EAO representatives there. Here are some extracts from their talks:

·         At the top we are friendly to each other. But at the ground level, things haven’t changed much more than before we signed the NCA.

·         Our basic difference is in our outlooks:

To the government, we are rebels (Thaung Gyan Thu, meaning rampagers, in Burmese)
To us, the government and the military are invaders.
These need to be overcome by both sides.

·         The 6 point principles of the Tatmadaw? # 1-4 are okay, but #5-6 are against the NCA, confusing even its own officers and men

·         The State Counselor has strangely been silent on continuing offensives against  the non-signatories

·         (On development projects) it’s not that we are against development. The problem with these government initiated projects is that they come together with the oppressive system we’ve been fighting against for more than 60 years. The people want development, but not in this way.

Green Hill Hotel
I later have an hour of reunion with my childhood schoolmates at Sanchaung’s Loi Hserm Hsip restaurant near the Winsor Hotel. Then to Green Hill Hotel to attend an CT-DPN pre-meeting on the Joint Coordination Body (JCB) for Peace Funding.

There is nothing new to report on the discussion on JCB, but I learn a few things about the 9-10 November meeting between the DPN and the government’s PC which adjourned this afternoon:

·         The first day was generally okay. We listened to the government’s explanations on the military CoC (Code of Conduct) and the ToR (Terms of Reference) for JMC (that was jointly drafted by the government and the signatories)

·         It was today when we were scheduled to discuss the remaining points of our 9-point proposal that the tone changed
(Photo: mizzima)

·         There were two questions put forward by the DPN members, which, though not included in the 9 points, are relevant to our negotiations: It said an appeal had been sent to the government via the PC for direct KIO-Naypyitaw negotiations for the de-escalation of the ongoing fighting more than a month ago. “Isn’t it about time we get the response?” There was still none. That was the first thing that soured the meeting’s atmosphere. (According to General Gun Maw’s written note which appeared in the Mizzima article yesterday, it took place on 9 November, and not 10th, as I’m reporting here. Of course, It’s more than likely I must have been wrong about the date.)

Such things never happen during the previous government. The answers might be “Yes” or “No”, but they were, almost without exceptions, prompt.

·         One problem is that the present government is too set on formal meetings, and not on informal meetings, unlike its predecessor.
Another may be that since the matter is a military one, the KIO should have sent its appeal to the military directly and copying it to the SC (or vice versa). It would then have a better chance of a quicker response.

·         Another thing which shook the meeting’s atmosphere related to the DPN’s inquiry on the Commander-in-Chief’s 8 November speech delivered to the EU (which is best not recounted here).

·         The end result was we reached only token agreement on the 9 points, which was better than nothing. We also agreed to meet again before the end of the month. (This planned meeting has yet to take place at the time of this reporting. The PC is reportedly due to visit China, 26 November-2 December.)

At 22:00, I’m back at my hotel.


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