The Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO) formally exited peace talks with the junta on Friday, declaring that it will join the fight against Myanmar’s military until the dictatorship is gone and a federal democratic system is installed for all the people of Myanmar.
“Despite eight years of engaging in the peace dialogue with high hopes, no guaranteed political results have been achieved,” the PNLO said in a statement.
The current conflict is between those who run the machinery of dictatorship and those oppressed by it, the statement said, noting that ethnic and other people across the entire country are being oppressed by the dictatorship.
The statement was issued after fighting broke out in the southern Shan town of Hsihseng, which was controlled by the junta despite being in Pa-O Self-Administered Zone.
The PNLO signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in 2015 and has continued to participate in peace talks since the coup, but tensions between it and the junta escalated this week.
The PNLO’s armed wing, the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA), said on Friday that it had seized the junta’s Light Infantry Battalion 424 in Hsihseng Town, along with arms and ammunition.
Hsihseng is about a two-hour drive from Shan State’s capital, Taunggyi, and close to Karenni State. After fighting broke out in the town, residents began fleeing to Taunggyi and Hopong townships to escape a wave of junta bombing. A rescue worker in the town said they included people displaced from Karenni State who had fled to Hsihseng to escape fighting at home.
Tension between the PNLA and junta troops boiled over in Hopong Township’s Sam Hpu village on Jan 21 when the junta troops tried to confiscate arms and ammunition from a five-vehicle PNLA convoy. The fighting spread to Hsihseng town after the junta jets bombed Naung Htaw village the next day. Naung Htaw village is located near the PNLO’s headquarters.
The PNLO said in its statement that it had complied with the terms of the NCA, and did not participate in the nationwide armed revolution against the junta until clashes broke out in Hsihseng town on Wednesday.
The group said it will not attack other Pa-O ethnic groups and urged the Pa-O militia under the management of the junta to join the movement for national liberation. It was referring to the Pa-O National Organization but did not use its name.
On Thursday, about 150 junta troops and PNO members attacked Lwal Htwal village in PNLA-controlled territory. One member of the PNO militia was reportedly killed.
A Pa-O resident of Taunggyi Township in southern Shan State told The Irrawaddy that fighting the junta’s military is a noble act that can free people. “However, there will be sacrifices in the fight for freedom,” he added.
SOURCE – Irrawaddy.