By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Shan ethnic groups called for election campaigning to be suspended in their areas as fighting between them and government troops is still continuing despite ceasefire negotiations.
Yawd Surk, chairman of the Restoration Council of the Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), called a week-long meeting of the council on Friday to assess the situation before making a final decision on how to participate in the general election and the peace talks, a source said.
Myanmar is scheduled to have a general election on November 8 while the government is in the process of setting a date for signing the nationwide ceasefire agreement with 15 ethnic groups, including the Shan.
Of the 15 groups, only the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) has not yet been able to conclude peace negotiations.
President Thein Sein met with representatives of the ethnic groups two weeks ago in the capital Nay Pyi Taw in his attempt to have an early signing of the peace agreement. Thein Sein reportedly proposed that the pact be signed by the end of this month, while the ethnic groups preferred the middle of October.
The Restoration Council of Shan State said over the weekend that government troops have launched military operations in the areas it controls since late August to the middle of this month.
Government soldiers arrested many innocent people in Wan Lao Sai Khao in Kun Hing township and shot innocent civilians in Nawng Ba Dep in Murng Pawn township, the council said.
Because of the attack on people and RCSS/SSA fighters, “there is no security for political parties and the people, therefore all political parties have been notified to suspend their campaign activities in those areas until the situation returns to normal”, the council’s statement said.
Meanwhile, the Shan Human Rights Foundation provided details on the military crashes in many areas of Kunhing township. On August 25, about 30 villagers in the township in southern Shan State were forced by government troops to be human shields during clashes with Shan fighters.
The clashes occurred simultaneously on August 25 in two locations south of Kunhing town, where government soldiers appeared to be launching an operation to drive out the RCSS/SSA, which has been based there for decades and has a ceasefire with the government, the foundation said.
On September 10, there was another outbreak of fighting south of Kunhing when another unit of government troops, from Battalion 149 in Murng Hsu, was deployed in the area, it said.