By Peter Aung
The Ethnic Nationalities Council, an umbrella group made up of Burmese exile organisations, has urged armed groups currently in peace talks with the Burmese government to suspend their negotiations if the Burmese army continues to attack the Kachin Independence Army in northern Burma.
At the conclusion of ENC’s 3rd annual meeting at the Thai-Burmese border on 11 September, the group released a seven-point statement expressing its concern over the ongoing fighting in Burma’s ethnic regions including northern Burma’s Kachin state and called on the Burmese government to honour the ceasefire agreements they’ve signed.
“Regarding the military offensive in Kachin state, the Burmese Army is continuing its operations despite President Thein Sein’s order to stand down. The ENC has urged the armed ethnic groups to suspend their current talks with the government should the offensive in Kachin state continues,” said the ENC’s Secretary-General Dr Sui Khar.
The fighting in Kachin state kicked off after a 17-year ceasefire broke down last year, which has displaced more than 90,000 people.
The group also condemned the Burmese government for preventing international humanitarian aid from reaching those displaced by the fighting.
Dr. Sui Khar said the ENC’s leaders also agreed that ethnic groups should discuss setting an ethnic conference in Burma like the Panglong Conference between themselves in advance before reaching out the government.
Chin, Kachin, Arakan, Shan, Mon and Karen ethnic organisations formed the ENC in 2001.