Myanmar leader begins peace talks with ethnic militia groups

May 19, 2022, 9:18 PM | Updated: May 20, 2022, 9:21 am
In this photo provided by the Myanmar Military True News Information Team, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hla...

In this photo provided by the Myanmar Military True News Information Team, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, right, head of the military council, shakes hand with Yawd Serk, chairman of Shan State Army, during their meeting Friday, May 20, 2022, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (Military True News Information Team via AP)

(Military True News Information Team via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — The head of Myanmar’s military government on Friday held the first in a monthlong series of person-to-person peace talks he has initiated with the country’s historically restive ethnic minority groups, state media reported.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing held discussions with Yawd Serk, chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State and Shan State Army, the political body and its military wing representing the Shan minority from eastern Myanmar, state-run MRTV television reported.

Min Aung Hlaing’s meetings in the capital, Naypyitaw, with the leaders of the ethnic armed organizations are their first face-to-face peace talks since the military seized power in February last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Massive opposition to the army’s takeover has evolved into what some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war. The new armed rebel groups opposed to the takeover have allied themselves with some of the major ethnic minority guerrilla organizations, stretching the military’s resources. Offering generous peace terms to the ethnic groups could shake the anti-government alliances.

The Shan, the country’s largest ethnic minority group, and other minorities have been seeking greater autonomy from the central government since the country, then named Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948.

For most of them, the struggle has included years of armed combat, punctuated by insecure cease-fires. The failure to resolve the issue with a comprehensive political agreement with the government has been responsible for much of Myanmar’s instability, with its army justifying its political influence with the need to safeguard national security.

Bids by the ruling military council for peace talks since last year had failed, so Min Aung Hlaing last month proposed in-person peace talks to the leaders of all ethnic armed groups to negotiate an end to armed conflict across the country. He said the peace talks are for the benefit of Myanmar’s people “to enjoy the essence of peace and development”

Myanmar has 21 ethnic armed organizations, 10 of which accepted the invitation to the peace talks, the military council’s spokesperson, Maj.-Gen. Zaw Min Tun, said at a news conference on Thursday.

But there is skepticism that the talks will do much to advance peacemaking, because none of the groups attending is currently in armed conflict with the government.

The major ethnic minority groups fighting with the army, such as Kachin Independence Army in the north, Karen National Union in the south, the Karenni National Progressive Party in the east and the Chin National Front in the northwest, have spurned the peace talks because the army excluded their allies in the groups formed last year in opposition to its seizure of power.

The opposition National Unity Government and its armed affiliates, called the People’s Defense Forces, have received critical support from ethnic guerrilla groups, including training, weapons and refuge.

Min Aung Hlaing has urged the ethnic militias not to support the groups opposed to army rule, which his administration has designated as terrorists. He also said he will not talk with the National Unity Government and People’s Defense Forces, which he said his army would “annihilate.”

Military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said in the peace talks, Min Aung Hlaing would ask the aspirations of each ethnic minority group, make known the government’s desires and discuss future plans.

“We will have discussions honestly and openly. It is hoped that the meetings will be able to find a solution for the peace process or get a positive outcome for the continuity of peace processes,” he said.

MRTV reported that Min Aung Hlaing’s talks with Yawd Serk covered the practice of multiparty democracy, the establishment of a union system based on democracy and federalism, and peace processes.

Yawd Serk suggested that Min Aung Hlaing prepare a time frame for the peace process after meeting with all ethnic armed groups, MRTV reported. It said Yawd Serk would hold talks Saturday with the peace negotiating committees formed by the military council.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

The next frontier for drones: letting them fly out of sight

REMINGTON, Va. (AP) — For years, there’s been a cardinal rule for flying civilian drones: Keep them within your line of sight. Not just because it’s a good idea — it’s also the law. But some drones have recently gotten permission to soar out of their pilots’ sight. They can now inspect high-voltage power lines […]
1 day ago
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pos...
Associated Press

Marcos plays balancing act in meeting with China’s FM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — New Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will meet China’s top diplomat Wednesday to discuss long-simmering disputes in the South China Sea, as he wades into foreign policy dilemmas that include the U.S.-China rivalry in the region. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, wearing a native Filipino formal shirt, met his counterpart for […]
1 day ago
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stands in front of Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam o...
Associated Press

Russian foreign minister stops in Vietnam ahead of G-20

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Vietnam on Wednesday as part of an effort to bolster ties with a country that has not openly condemned its invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov, on his way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a G-20 meeting, sought to strengthen ties with Vietnam, which also […]
1 day ago
People wearing face masks walk past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in ...
Associated Press

Asian benchmarks mostly lower after tepid Wall St session

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday after tepid trading on Wall Street amid worries about a global recession. Major benchmarks fell across Asia. Oil prices recouped some lost ground. Analysts said markets were focusing on a variety of risks, including inflation, oil prices, moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central […]
1 day ago
FILE - Police officers detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 24, 2022. When Presiden...
Associated Press

Some Russians won’t halt war protests, despite arrest fears

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, Anastasia has started her day by composing an anti-war message and posting it on the wall at the entrance of her apartment block in the industrial city of Perm in the Ural Mountains. “Do not believe the propaganda you see on the TV, read independent media!” reads one. “Violence and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Ogwumike and Los Angeles face Stewart and the Storm

Seattle Storm (13-8) at Los Angeles Sparks (10-11) Los Angeles; Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EDT BOTTOM LINE: Nneka Ogwumike and Breanna Stewart meet when Los Angeles hosts Seattle. Ogwumike ranks fifth in the WNBA averaging 18.7 points per game and Stewart is first in the league averaging 21.3 points per game. The Sparks have gone – […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Myanmar leader begins peace talks with ethnic militia groups