Myanmar’s Peace Commission has held a meeting in China with the representatives of three ethnic armed groups fighting the Myanmar Armed Forces along the country’s northern border, AsiaNews reports.
The Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Arakan Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army are part of the Northern Alliance, which also includes the Kachin Independence Organisation, whose representatives were also present as observers. These are the only groups that have not signed the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
Myanmar’s internal military conflicts between the army and ethnic groups who are majority-Christian include those affecting the Kachin and Chin people groups. Operation World, a Christian missionary organisation, calls Myanmar “a deeply fractured nation on a political and especially ethnic level”.
At a peace forum in South Korea on 1 September, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo from Myanmar warned about ethnic minorities being “injured, killed and displaced” in the north of the country, Catholic news agency UCAN reports.
Cardinal Bo said that “wars are being raged in Myanmar against those who espouse religious freedom by forces preaching religious intolerance and hatred”.
The cardinal raised concerns about the military holding supreme power in the country by controlling three key ministries, while “the civilian government has little or no effective control over its activities”.
This is combined with rising Buddhist nationalism, he said, which triggers repression and does not provide the ethnic and religious minorities the “peace and human dignity” they deserve.
In a 10 September appeal sent to “those who are interested in peace” in Myanmar, the cardinal criticised the use of “extreme terms” like genocide and ethnic cleansing by the international community, which, he said, “would not assist us for our journey towards peace and democracy. Understanding our delicate situations, we need cooperation and accompaniment by the international community,” he added.