ABSDF to hold peace talks with government

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Thursday, 19 January 2012 13:19 Ko Wild

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) on Tuesday agreed to have peace talks with the Burmese government, ABSDF Vice Chairman Myo Win said.

Most of the nine ABSDF battalions are based in areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), which has signed a cease-fire agreement with the government.

The ABSDF said that if it cannot cooperate with the KNU military wing, with which it has had a close relationship for more than 20 years, it could cooperate with the political wing in resolving problems that confront the ethnic communities, Myo Win said.

KNU General-Secretary Zipporah Sein said that despite its cease-fire with the government, many political issues remain to be discussed.

“Only if [the government] can establish a nationwide ceasefire, will problems be solved. Many political processes need to be resolved. The ABSDF has cooperated [with KNU], and we will discuss our alliance,” Myo Win told Mizzima.

In responding to the government peace-talk offer, “Our main message is that we also want to solve the political problems impartially. We’ve sent an official letter via our communication route,” Myo Win said.

The letter said the ABSDF is seeking national reconciliation, peace, a “genuine union” and democracy and human rights, he said.

Myo Win said the government said the ABSDF could pick the site of the peace talks.

Win Tin, a member of National League for Democracy patron committee, welcomed the negotiations. He said that the role of the ABSDF is as important as the role of ethnic groups in trying to establish peace. However, the ABSDF needs to beware of the Burmese army’s attitude, which appears to differ from the government’s approach to the peace talks.

“On December 10, the president ordered the commander in chief to stop military offensives [against ethnic armed groups]. But the attacks still continue,” Win Tin told Mizzima. “There are three sides. The first is all armed groups. The second is the government, and it knows that peace is needed for its survival and is doing its task. On the other hand, [the third side, the military] does not obey the government’s order and still launches military offensives.”

The ABSDF is an armed group formed by students who fled to border areas after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising. The group said it plans to take advice from members living in Burma and foreign countries.