A number of the targets of a letter sent yesterday by Aung San Suu Kyi that urged a nationwide ceasefire after months of heavy fighting in Burma say the calls are timely and welcome.
The opposition leader also offered to play a negotiating role between the Burmese government and multiple ethnic armies currently engaged in conflict in the country’s border regions.
La Nan, joint-secretary of Kachin Independence Organisation, whose armed wing the Kachin Independence Army, has been battling Burmese forces in the country’s north since early June, said that Suu Kyi’s message carried “great potential”.
“We have redistributed the letter to our leaders and are to hold a discussion prior to responding after everyone has read it,” he said.
Also included in the letter was the Karen National Union (KNU), the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Shan State Army (SSA), as well as Burmese President Thein Sein. As of today, no mention has been made of it in state media, the normal means by which the government communicates with the public.
The KNU’s deputy chairman, David Thackrabaw, was also enthusiastic about the letter. “We are mutual here and we accept [Suu Kyi’s call for] peaceful resolution to the conflicts – our door is always open.”
He added that the Nobel laureate should also urge support from the UN and ASEAN, given that various meetings and negotiations with the government towards an end to the fighting had so far failed. “So [this time] we might have to meet in a third party country.”
Suu Kyi’s offer of mediation is the first time she has mooted her possible role in bringing an end to the fighting, which has resulted in tens of thousands of people being displaced.
Nai Hongsa, general secretary of New Mon State Party, said a mediating role for the opposition icon could prove very beneficial. While the group “wants to have peace in the country” he said, “there are difficulties for us to meet and negotiate with each other so we actually need a middle person”.
Khin Maung Swe, leader of the National Democratic Force party, questioned whether Suu Kyi had discussed the matter during talks last week with the government’s labour minister, Aung Kyi, of which details have been vague.
Refusals from a multitude of armed ethnic groups to become government-controlled Border Guard Forces have led to parts of Burma’s northern and eastern border regions being engulfed in violence.