The record of the press meet held by the Tatmadaw True News Information Team on the internal peace process, endeavours of the Tatmadaw and AA insurgent group
The press meet on the internal peace process, endeavours of the Tatmadaw and AA insurgent group was held at Defence Services Museum (Nay Pyi Taw) from 3.00 pm to 4.30pm on 23 July 2019. Fifteen members of the Tatmadaw True News Information Team and 44 reporters of 22 news agencies were present.
Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo extended greetings, and said the offences of ethnic armed groups, and endeavours for peace after the announcement on the ceasefire and internal peace was issued on 21 December 2018 have been explained every month. Now, the offences of the ethnic armed groups in the five military command areas during the period from 16 June to 21 July 2019 after the announcement on the ceasefire and eternal peace was issued on 21 December 2018 will be explained. During the said period there was no armed engagement between ethnic armed groups. In the Northern Command area, there was no armed engagement with the Tatmadaw troops or between the ethnic armed groups; KIA committed territorial intrusion for ten times and the AA insurgent group for two times; and KIA extorted money for one time. KIA recruited new members for one time. In the North-East Command area, Tatmadaw troops encountered 32 armed engagements, including 20 engagements with TNLA (most of the engagements were with TNLA), four engagements with KIA and TNLA, two engagements with MNDAA and TNLA, two engagements with MNDAA, KIA and TNLA, one engagement with KIA, one engagement with MNDAA and two engagements with KIA and MNDAA totaling 32. There was no armed engagement between ethnic armed groups. TNLA committed territorial intrusions for 18 times; KIA three times; MNDAA six times; SSA (Wunhai) seven times; RCSS/SSA five times totaling 39 times. TNLA extorted money for two times, SSA (Wunhai) four times, RCSS/SSA one time, totaling seven times. TNLA recruited new members for seven times, MNDAA one time, SSA (Wunhai) one time, RCSS/SSA two times, totaling 11. Of the five military commands most of the incidents occurred in North-East Command area. In the Eastern Command area, there was no engagement with Tatmadaw troops or between the ethnic armed groups. KNPP committed territorial intrusion for one time. In Central-East Command, there was one armed engagement between the Tatmadaw troops and RCSS/SSA. RCSS/SSA committed territorial intrusion for two times. SSA (Wunhai) committed extortion for one time. RCSS/SSA recruited new members for three times. In the Triangle Region Command area, there were three engagements between Tatmadaw troops and RCSS/SSA. RCSS/SSA committed territorial intrusion for three times.During the period from 16 June to 21 July 2019, there were 36 engagements with the Tatmadaw troops, armed groups committed territorial intrusion for 57 times, extortion for nine times and recruited new members for 15 times. All in all, armed conflicts broke out again, TNLA made the largest number of armed engagements with the Tatmadaw troops (20 times), it committed the largest number of territorial intrusions (18 times), SSA (Wunhai) committed the largest number of extortions (four times), and TNLA committed the largest number of new member recruitments (seven times). During the seven-month ceasefire period in five military commands from 21 December 2018 to 21 July 2019, TNLA launched the largest number of armed engagements with Tatmadaw (25 times), KIA the second largest number at 20 times followed by RCSS/SSA launching 11 engagements, and SSA (Wunhai), MNDAA, KIA and TNLA each launching nine times. As regards the engagements between ethnic armed groups, RCSS/SSA and TNLA, SSA (Wunhai) combined group committed the largest number of engagements at 42 times, RCSS/SSA and PNLO committed two engagements (the second largest number), and RCSS/SSA and SSA (Wunhai) for one time. TNLA committed the largest number of territorial intrusions at 207 times, RCSS/SSA committed 116 times, SSA (Wunhai) 89 times, and KIA 85 times. RCSS/SSA committed the largest number of extortions at 31 times. KIA the second largest at 15 times, followed by SSA (Wunhai) with 11 times, TNLA with seven times. RCSS/SSA committed the largest number of recruitments (27 times), followed by KIA with 21 times, and TNLA and MNDAA with 16 each. The offences of ethnic armed groups during the seven-month ceasefire period in five military command areas are 97 armed engagements with Tatmadaw troops, 45 engagements between them, 585 territorial intrusions, 66 extortions, and 86 recruitments. The number of engagements decreased and there was no recurrence of a major battle. The Tatmadaw sees the drop in armed engagements with ethnic armed groups as positive sign. Tatmadaw urged all armed groups to abandon their armed struggle line and invited them to the peace talks for national peace and stability, security and development. As regards the peace process, National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) and ethnic armed groups have held meetings for three times from 1-7-2019 to this date -- a meeting with KNU in Yangon on 9-7-2019, with RCSS/SSA in Nay Pyi Taw on 11-7-2019 and with KNPP in Nay Pyi Taw on 17-7-2019. There were two meetings between Tatmadaw Coordination Team and ethnic armed groups from 1-7-2019 to this date -- a meeting with RCSS/SSA in Nay Pyi Taw on 12-7-2019, and with KNPP in Nay Pyi Taw on 18-7-2019.
Question and answer session
Q: Reporter Daw Aye Aye Mon of RFA asked whether there were any casualties on the Tatmadaw’s side in North-East Command area during the period of over one-month which saw armed conflicts, and the number of casualties if any.
A: In answering the question, Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo said the armed forces of world countries never release any information in connection with the casualties in a battle. Although there may be casualties in a battle, but they never release the exact number of casualties.
Q: She asked another question in connection with armed conflicts in western and northwestern parts of the country. She said she had received information about recent attacks against navy boats and about the torching of some of the villages in Myebon Township from the native people. But as the troops were on the ground, what the press meet explain here will be more authentic.So, she said she wanted to know how much factual is her information.
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun answered the question. He said BBC Myanmar has asked this question before we came to the press meet. When we asked the Western Command Headquarters, they answered that there is no torching in the area, only the security measures are being taken. As regards the second question, news in connection with the attack on navy boats has already been released. One was in the area south of Kanhtaunggyi Village and the other was in the area of Yathedaung. As regards the incident at Kanhtaunggyi Village, some of the dried up creeks have water in the rainy season. Their water levels are high at this time. Fishing nets were laid in the water when the navy boats were on patrol. Navy boats could hit the nets and sail over them. But, navy personnel had to steer their boat away from the net as they did not want to harm the livelihood of the native people. They had to reduce the speed in steering their boat away from the net. At that time, when the boat was slow, the RPG attack came from the other side of the bank. So, it was a trap plotted in advance. The perpetrators disguised themselves as native people laid down nets as a trap. This kind of attack can harm the interest of the local people. Servicemen will have to take into account an alternative way if they face a similar situation again next time during the military operation. If they use an alternative way, the ones who may suffer are no other persons than the native people. There was news about the mine attacks, laying of mines, armed attacks and the practice of hit and run tactics, using villages as a cover during the open season.
In defending based on the security measures, such incidents happened. As similar incidents happened in waterway, those who actually bore burden of loss were the people. That is why administrative bodies and bodies for rule of law at different levels have informed the local people not to harbour AA insurgents around the villages, not disguise in forms of AA and to cooperate with those bodies. The information has been released on incidents near Yathedaung. The incident was firing of RPGs. Some questions were raised for these RPGs. It is difficult to exactly say where they got these RPGs. However, such RPG can be seen as 107mm rocket through Internet. I have replied to the questions about any worry for security due to the fact that even naval vessels were attacked with regard to the incident. Ambush can be conducted from the land to the water similar to the ambush from land to land. It may be strange in Rakhine State but a similar event happened in last 20-30 years. The ships leaving Mawlamyine for Kayin State were always under the escort of small naval vessels. At that time, armed conflicts reached a climax in Kayin State. Naval vessels were ambushed for many times. But, it was not in serious situation of security measures. In fact, it needs to take care of security. I would like to say that the traps kept in disguise of engaging in livelihoods of local people and performing of propaganda that these were property of local people can be harmful to interest of the local people.
Q: Correspondent Daw Aye Aye Mon of RFA news agency said AA insurgents claimed that Rakhine State is their region. They are trying to set up a base in Rakhine State. However, the Tatmadaw cannot accept it in any way. She asked, can it be possible to sign the bilateral agreement between AA and the Tatmadaw as clashes often happen?
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun replied that I have already replied to it. It depends on AA. The stance of the Tatmadaw on AA does not change similar to that of previous press conferences.
Q: Correspondent Daw Aye Aye Mon of RFA news agency said that she had got the chance to ask about the meetings with KNPP and non-signatories in 2019. She would like to ask the questions to the Tatmadaw. She would like to know how much progress has been achieved at the meeting.
A: Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo replied that the Tatmadaw Coordination Team met with EAOs two times in July. The team of the Tatmadaw was led by Lt-Gen Yar Pyae. It held a meeting with a group led by Sao Bao Khae of RCSS/SSA in Nay Pyi Taw on 12 July 2019. The meeting focused on three main points. The first was discussed between the Tatmadaw and the group of RCSS/SSA to hold the 4th Peace Conference-21st Century Panglong. The second point was highlighted on interim plan before the conference. The third one was to undertake regional development. The team led by Lt-Gen Yar Pyae held a meeting with the peace implementing committee of KNPP led by Khu Oo Yel on 18 July 2019. The meeting discussed three points. The first one was for KNPP to sign the NCA. The second one was to abide by agreements between the Tatmadaw and KNPP and not to cause main clashes. For the third one, both sides discussed matters related to peace process.
Q: Reporter Ko Soe Min Htaik of Daily Eleven news agency said that he would like to know assessment of the Tatmadaw over current security measures in Rakhine State with regard to attacks on vessels. He asked how serious is the situations.
A: In his replies, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said that any country throughout the world cannot take 100 percent of security measures. The incident of 9/11 happened even in the United States of America. Actually, the incidents related to AA started in 2015. Later, it calmed down. But, more incidents happened again in 2018 and 2019. If the areas can be identified, many clashes happened in January, February and March in 2019. After that, number of clashes declined. Last one or two days, number of clash was the very least. On his review, he noted it was a situation that the Tatmadaw can maintain security than in the past.
Q: Reporter Htet Naing Zaw of Irrawaddy news agency said that the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services had told peace will be given to the hands of the people in the year 2020 at the conferences-21st Century Panglong. He asked that now is in 2019, so he would like to know progress of peace in current situation.
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun replied that he would like to talk about the pledge made for the peace in the year 2020. It is the pledge of the Tatmadaw. The statement on ceasefire and eternal peace which has never been released was issued on 21 December 2018. The statement announced the four-month ceasefire. The ceasefire period was extended two months for two times. In looking back the history of Myanmar’s peace process, the announcement on general amnesty was issued as the highest one in the time of the Revolutionary Council in 1962. Ceasefire was not conducted. But, a guarantee was given. The council invited to come and discuss. Those who came to discuss were not arrested and not kept in custody. They were allowed freely. They were granted to return if discussions did not achieve success. Reporters might have seen these documentary photos. Some of them were very famous. These photos depicting that they have turned back were taken by reporters in the past. At present, the Tatmadaw holds up its pledge with one-sided ceasefire. In this regard, whatever tasks are undertaken, I would like to indicate strategy or tactic of the Tatmadaw or small or heavy tasks as public usage must have the aim. The three-time announcements of ceasefire prove what the Tatmadaw is doing to implement the aim. Ethnic armed organizations and ethnic people need to participate in implementation of the aim. Public participation is of great importance in peace process. Ethnic armed organizations depend on the ethnic people. If utmost efforts are made to urge ethnic armed organizations to participate in the peace process, greater achievement will be secured. Hence, the Tatmadaw is implementing its pledge under the aim.
Q: Reporter Htet Naing Zaw of Irrawaddy news agency said that some EAOs are signatories to NCA but some, non-signatories. Some talked about reviewing the NCA. He asked he would like to know the stance of the Tatmadaw on the route of NCA and he asked which reform process needs or the original process would meet progress.
A: Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo replied that the vision of the NCA is to achieve eternal peace. The NCA can roughly be defined that it leads to sustainable existence of peace based on justice and prestige through political dialogues which can be joined by deserved stakeholders. The frameworks for political dialogues were adopted for holding the political dialogues of the NCA. The aim was set for the political dialogues. It will hold the political dialogues with participation of deserved stakeholders so as to solve the political problems in the political way but not in the military way for achieving the sustainable existence of peace. So, the NCA route is the best in order to secure the sustainable existence of peace. The framework has been drawn and is being realized for solving the problems in the political ways but not in a military way. In order to hold political dialogues, the Tatmadaw declared the unilateral ceasefire. The Tatmadaw has been allowing ceasefire in five military command areas for seven months. Not only the government but also the Tatmadaw accepts informal meetings. He said he would like to note that it depends on wish of ethnic armed organizations to enjoy fruits of peace process. The Tatmadaw and some EAOs held informal meetings during the ceasefire period. The government also held informal meetings with NRPC. The government and the Tatmadaw are striving for securing the sustainable existence of peace after the EAOs have signed the NCA through the aforesaid way.EAOs are urged to go after NCA with firm conviction.
Q: Reporter Htet Naing Zaw of Irrawaddy news agency raised a question that points of constitutional amendments were distributed in the parliament. The ruling party tried for charter change through the parliamentary route. Tatmadaw stick to the notion that will safeguard the Constitution. If the other side puts pressure on the charter change, there will be some people expressing concerns over political instability in the country. If charter change is put more and more pressure, how will Tatmadaw continue to stand.
A: Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi replied that the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services already men-tioned Tatmadaw’s stance on charter change. He did not tell not to amend the Constitution. He told that the constitutional amendments should be made in accord with the law. Tatmadaw representatives already expressed their attitude toward the report of the 45-member committee. More than 3,700 points as to charter change will have to be thoroughly discussed. The Constitution is the life-blood of the country. It took much time to write this Constitution because it is Mother Law. The points necessary for amendment have to be discussed in the parliament. Legislators have to discuss the required points in detail. It is necessary to monitor parliamentary procedures.
Q: Reporter Htet Naing Zaw of Irrawaddy news agency questioned that the ruling party expressed attitude to reduce Tatmadaw’s participation in the parliament step by step and that interested most of the people at a time when amendments come out. How much percentage of military participation in the parliament will be reduced from 2020 to 2025? The percentage of the military participation in the parliament will be reduced gradually from 2030 to 2035. Some ethnic political parties wanted Tatmadaw to leave the parliament immediately. I wanted to know the wish of Tatmadaw when to leave the parliament, for example, in time of economic boom or in time of achieving peace.
A: Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi replied that we told about this for several times. We hope the time of prevailing political stability and peace in the country, economic boom and ending of armed conflicts. We wish this situation came true. I think it will take time to amend the Constitution because it is being carried out in the parliament.
Q: Reporter Aung Thura of BBC news agency questioned that let me know the advantages and disadvantages to the ceasefire during seven months. 10 NCA signatories have disagreements in PPST and PPCM. I would like to know the stance of Tatmadaw on PPCM. I wanted to ask if such disagreement had an effect on peace process.
A: Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun replied that Maj-Gen Soe Naing Oo would clarify the matters relating to the PPST and the PPCM. The Chairman of Tatmadaw True News Information Team clarified and discussed the situation of ceasefire in five military commands during seven months. The first point is there are no clashes in Kachin State. The displaced persons in some IDP camps were relocated in their native places. Clashes decreased in number in the military commands of the ceasefire period. But there were clashes between RCSS/SSA and SSA (Wunhai) in the North-East Command. But two months later, the RCSS/SSA and SSA (Wunhai) met in the discussions and that clashes decreased in number. Clashes decreased in number remarkably in five military commands during seven months of ceasefire and that brought about benefits to local ethnic people. Practical development and impractical emotions are of importance in the peace process. I think emotions are more important than practical developments. For instance, Kayin State suffered mine planting and clashes in the past, but now Kayin State sees peace after making ceasefire. Clashes have not been seen in that State for quite a number of years. DKBA splinter group went to settle on Mizine Mountain. But, the local people wanted a taste of peace and disliked insurgency. When they knew the peace, they gave information. If the ethnic armed group doesn’t receive support, it won’t be able to continue standing. We want this kind of spirit. The spirit of wanting peace could be cultivated. The spirit of the local people that want rights and peace has grown and that becomes more important in the peace process.
To be continued