Myanmar signs peace treaty with Wa rebels

United Wa State Army troops on parade (file photo)

The government of Myanmar has signed a peace deal with the rebels of the ethnic Wa guerrilla group, according to state media.

The Kyemon Daily newspaper said on Saturday that the agreement was reached on Friday between the rebels and a government peace delegation that travelled to the remote Wa region in Shan state, which borders China.

The five-point agreement includes a clause calling for regular meetings between the two sides whenever military issues arise.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) also made a commitment not to secede from Myanmar, also known as Burma, in the document.

In addition, Myanmar’s military and the UWSA agreed to return to positions they occupied before a recent standoff.

The Wa, who have a fighting force numbering as many as 30,000, reached a peace agreement with the central government in 1989, but recently tensions escalated after the Myanmar military surrounded Wa territory.

Over the years, minority religious and ethnic groups have not fared well in Myanmar, and some of them have been waging armed rebellions against the central government for decades.

But recently, the central government has been trying to make peace with the armed separatists, and Friday's move is part of the government’s efforts to reach comprehensive peace deals with all of the country’s ethnic rebel groups.

On May 31, the government and the rebels in the state of Kachin signed an agreement, which had been brokered by United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar and representatives from the ethnic umbrella group United Nationalities Federal Council.

The agreement was reached with the Kachin Independence Organization -- the political wing of the Kachin Independence Army.

However, Rohingya Muslims have been denied Myanmar citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982, and there have been a number of attacks on Rohingyas over the past year.

And the situation has recently deteriorated for the other Muslims of Myanmar.

The violence that originally targeted Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar is beginning to spread to other parts of the country, where Muslims who have been granted citizenship are now being attacked, according to the website

About 800,000 Rohingyas in the western state of Rakhine are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.

The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.

Rohingya Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years.

Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists who call themselves Buddhists.

The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who were then forced to flee.

Myanmar’s government has been accused of failing to protect the Muslim minority.

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also come under fire for her stance on the violence. The Nobel Peace laureate has refused to censure the Myanmar military for its persecution of the Rohingyas, although she recently condemned the decision by local officials in Rakhine state to enforce a two-child policy on Rohingya Muslims.

Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued separate statements, calling on Myanmar to take action to protect the Rohingya Muslim population against extremists.

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