Armed groups from Myanmar’s ethnic minorities met for a five day peace-building conference in Myanmar. Among the 15 represented groups were leaders from Karen, Chin, and Kachin ethnic groups among which many are Christians. Although no agreement has been reached so far with Myanmar’s religious and ethnic minorities, many hope the conference will be a step toward finding a solution to decades of tension. Christian and Muslim minorities have been at odds with Myanmar’s government for decades. Many of these groups feel ostracized and discriminated against by Myanmar which is predominantly Buddhist and has taken an aggressive stance toward religious minorities in a conflict that a raged for decades and claimed countless lives.
5/26/2017 Myanmar (UCA News) – Ethnic armed groups from the Christian-stronghold states of Karen, Chin and Kachin are among 15 groups attending Myanmar’s latest round of 21st Century Panglong peace talks.
The five-day conference, May 24-28, is the second session under Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to bring peace to seven ethnic states that have experienced vast and bitter conflicts for nearly 70 years.
However, little progress to reach a deal has been made to date and the de-facto leader has fallen short in her attempt to bring all 20 militia groups to the table.
An alliance of seven ethnic armed groups known as the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), who are yet to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), refused to attend as they were invited as special guests with “no equal status.”
“Time is precious and getting peace is very important for our country. We need to try bringing all militias to the conference,” Manam Tu Ja, a Catholic and chairman of Kachin State Democracy Party, told ucanews.com.
Rev. Saw Matthew Aye, a member of the Union Level Joint Monitoring Committee, who is attending the conference as a special guest, recognized the absence of some groups is not ideal, but retains hopes of an agreement.