By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER
YANGON — Local civil society groups in the Chin State capital have called for a stop to military offensives across Myanmar, in response to fresh clashes following the government’s peace conference in August.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Hakha on Monday, following similar protests in Yangon and the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina earlier this month, calling on disputes to be resolved through the government’s framework for the peace process.
“What we want is for all fighting to stop, no matter where it is and why it is happening,” Salai Hrang Vun, one of the protest’s organisers, told Frontier.
Clashes between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and northern Shan states have been reported both before and after August’s 21st Century Panglong Conference, a four-day dialogue between the government and most of Myanmar’s non-state armed groups in Nay Pyi Taw.
In the three months leading up to the conference, the Free Burma Rangers reported at least 32 armed clashes in the area, along with 43 mortar and artillery strikes.
Assaults on territory held by ethnic armed groups in Myanmar’s north have continued since the conference concluded. At the beginning of October, an artillery strike claimed the life of a 2-year-old child and hospitalised several others in Pu Wang village, an ethnic Kachin area of Shan State on the Chinese border.
Meanwhile, in Kayin State fighting last month between the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and the local Border Guard Force displaced up to 4,000 people.
“These fights occurred just after the government held the 21st Century Panglong Conference,” said U Sali Van Cin Thang, a leader of the Chin Youth Organisation, adding that the recent clashes would cast a pall over future peace talks.