15th JMC-U meeting calls for more trust building

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March 21, 2018

 A lack of mutual respect, understanding and trust is causing unwanted complications in state-level ceasefire talks, said JMC-U Chairman Lt-Gen Yar Pyae in his opening speech in yesterday’s Union Joint Monitoring Committee meeting.

The 15th JMC-U meeting was held yesterday at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center on Shweli Road, and discussed negotiations and dialogue taken for the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in the period between the 14th JMC-U meeting and the 15th meeting, the opening of more local-level Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-L) Centres, establishing Local Civilians Monitoring (LCM) groups, and appointing a venue for the JMC Conference.

 In his opening statement, Lt-Gen Yar Pyae said that some JMC-S meetings only mention building trust, but it is not enough to just say the words, he said.

“All stakeholders must be able to rely on each other to build mutual respect”, he said. He added that participants in state-level Ceasefire Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC-S) meetings need to support each other and discuss mutually beneficial regional development while building trust and respect with each other.

“The main duty of the JMC is to monitor and facilitate disagreements and conflicts,” said Lt-Gen Yar Pyae. “We need to establish JMC-L centers and LCM groups and we need to hold workshops and trainings to help facilitate them. Military commanders from both sides need to join in the JMC-S meetings and all Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) who signed the NCA need to hold JMC meetings and involve the grassroots. We have agreed that civilian representatives will hold a meeting once every four months prior to any JMC meeting,” he said.

Saw Isaac Po, an EAO representative and JMC-U Vice Chairman-1, said at the meeting that it is not only the EAOs that need to build trust, but also the local residents of each state.

“The local people have been exposed to the negative side of armed conflicts for generations and are filled with fear and worry”, he said. Without the participation of local residents, the NCA and JMC meetings will only break their trust, he said. He added that, official negotiations aside, free unofficial meetings are also needed and everyone has to find solutions to cause of problems rather than shifting blame on each other. “Blaming does not solve anything, it magnifies them”, he said.

U Pyae Sone, civilian representative and JMC-U Vice Chairman-2, said the lack of trust breeds doubt and to remedy this, everyone from the higher ups to the grassroots needs to have the opportunity to meet and talk with each other. He said the separation of borders hamper this endeavour and can even be seen as a weakness to the JMC. He said the monitoring part of the JMC is still weak.

 “The JMC-U, JMC-S, and JMC-L all take place in the urban cities but the actual issues are taking place in the villages and the woods. For them to take part in these dialogues, we need Local Civilians Monitoring (LCM) groups,” said U Pyae Sone.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) joined the JMC-U meeting for the first time. The NMSP signed the NCA on 13 February 2018.

Attending the 15th JMC-U were representatives from the Tatmadaw and EAOs, civilian representatives, and representatives from JMC-S and JMC-L centers from various States and Regions. The 15th JMC-U meeting will be held from 21 to 23 March.