AA says its position is unchanged after meeting with Myanmar military council

An Arakan Army (AA) spokesperson claimed on Monday that the group has not altered its political stance following discussions with other ethnic armed group leaders, a Chinese diplomat, and representatives of the Myanmar military regime.

The ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) represented at the meetings are members of a league known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance: the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Arakan Army (AA). The alliance met with the military council’s peace committee in Mongla, eastern Shan State, on the Myanmar-China border between June 1 and 3.

Leaders of ethnic armed organisations arriving at the Chinese-Myanmar border to meet with the military council (Mongla News)

“Our goals remain the same. Nothing has changed,” said Khaing Thukha, the AA spokesperson.

He added that the topics discussed during the meeting had been “very general.”

There were discussions of strengthening multi-party democracy, forming a union based on democracy and federalism, collaboration for peace and development, and securing the trust of EAOs, according to Khaing Thukha.

He added that the member organisations of the alliance had focused on three main topics.

“The first topic was the release of political prisoners, the second was the removal of certain political parties from the list of unlawful associations, and the third was the smooth and timely delivery of humanitarian aid to the victims of Cyclone Mocha in Rakhine State,” he said.

Speaking with the BBC, junta spokesperson General Zaw Min Tun had said the outcome of the first day of the meetings in Mongla had been positive.

In contrast, Khaing Thukha said it was still too early to judge the results.

“These discussions were sponsored by the Chinese government, and whether or not the results are positive will be decided based on how the military acts after the meeting. It is still too early to guess,” he said.

A foreign affairs special envoy for Yunnan Province, China, attended the meetings.

More than two years after the military coup, China has increased its engagement with the military council. Chinese foreign affairs minister Qin Gang visited Naypyitaw for the first time early last month, and Major General Yang Yang, acting director general of Chinese military intelligence, met with Myanmar General Soe Win in the last week of May.

Meeting between the leader of the Chinese representative team and the Myanmar representative team under Myanmar Lt. Gen. Yar Pyae’s leadership in Russia in May 2022 (SAC)

The AA fought fiercely with military forces between late December 2019 and early November 2020. Fighting resumed in 2022 but paused again when the organisation agreed to a temporary truce with junta forces in November 2022.

The other two groups in the alliance were not part of this truce.

A few ethnic political organisations, including the United Wa State Party, the National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Shan State Progressive Party/ Shan State Army, met with the junta peace committee in March of this year.

However, the military’s attempts to secure meetings with other groups have failed.

A number of groups operating throughout the country refused a direct invitation from coup regime leader Min Aung Hlaing to meet last year. These included the Karen National Union and Chin National Front–both of which signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the military in 2015–as well as the Kachin Independence Organisation and the Karenni National Progressive Party.

Members of the Three Brotherhood Alliance lent support to the Spring Revolution—the resistance movement against the coup of February 2021—but have been less directly involved than other EAOs in supplying or training resistance forces since the military seized power.

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