To Hopeland and Back: The 27th trip

Gen N’Ban La, Vice Chairman of the 
Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)
Yes, I should have written this two weeks ago. I wanted to, too. But I was bedridden with flu, and as a result has surrendered completely to the ministrations of my wife, who used to be a nurse. Thanks to her, I’m back in shape to write this journal.  My hope is the data I’ll be providing here is not outdated.

The trip was the result of a meeting between Gen N’Ban La, Vice Chairman of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and Chairman of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), and Gen Mutu Saypoe, Chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU) and leader of the signatory Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) on 20 January. The two agreed that better understanding between the signatories and the non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) was the key to closer cooperation between them.

Gen Mutu Saypoe, Chairman of the Karen 
National Union (KNU) (Photo:chinlandnews)
“The KIO, since last year, has set up the Shawnglam Mungmasa Jasat Hpung (SMJH-pronounced Sa-Ma-Ja-Ha), the Kachin Political Consultative Team, made up of leaders from religious, civil, military and academic circles,” said N’Ban La. “And I would like you to meet them in Laiza, between 10-20 February.”

The plan later included meeting with the United Wa State Party/Army (UWSP/UWSA) on our way back from Laiza. At that time, the delegation was totally unaware of the pending “third summit” in Pangkham (the official name of the Wa capital Panghsang) where prominent non-signatory EAOs would be invited.

The delegation was made up of 6 KNU representatives, 2 Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) advisors, who together with retired Col Htoo Htoo Lay from KNU, later were appointed as PPST advisers.

The following, in a condensed form, is the report on what took place between 12-19 February.

Day One. Sunday, 12 February 2017

Four of us: Gen Mutu, myself, and our two assistants take a delayed flight by China Eastern Airline to Kunming this evening. The other 5, who flew from Rangoon/Yangon yesterday, are already there.

Author, his Thai friend, Gen Mutu Saypoe and
 assistant Saw Marcus at Chiangmai airport 
before departure. (Photo: PI)
It takes only two minutes, on arrival, for the Chinese immigration officials to decide I’m worth an entry stamp. But another half hour to decide we are not carrying any nuclear weapons. It was the same procedure the last time we came in July 2016. The security system is tight even for domestic flights.

We are then welcomed by officials from the Yunnan foreign department officials, one of whom speaks fluent Burmese. He tells us we will be meeting Mr. Sun Guoxiang, special envoy to Myanmar, tomorrow morning.

By the time we arrive at the hotel it is already 22:30.

(To be continued)


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