W. R. Collier Jr.- In a statement released on 15 October of 2015, John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, the US said that the “signing of the text of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) by the government (OF BURMA) and eight ethnic armed groups is a critical first step in a long process of building a sustainable and just peace in Burma.” The reference to a "Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement", which the US vowed to "watch with interest" for compliance from "all parties", may be more show and sham than substance.
This "ceasefire agreement" is not "national" for multiple reasons.
First, even among the national groups whose armed organizations have signed it, there is little faith that the government in Rangoon will honor the deal.
Second, and most urgently, Major General Nerdah Bo Mya, head of the Karen National Defence Organization, said that it was ‘ridiculous’ to talk about a ceasefire when “they are fighting in the North, they’re fighting in Shan State, they’re fighting in Kachin State, so those people cannot sign because they are fighting in those areas.” Indeed, fighting between Burmese troops and national people's groups in those areas is intensifying, a fact touched on by the US State Deparment, but which, increidbly, did not stop them from praising the "deal" and using it as a pretext to both further "normalize" relations with Rangoon's regime and increase US aid to that regime.
Inded, many Karen civil organizations have condemned the signing of the agreement by the armed organizations, stating both that it should await a time when all national peoples can participate and their doubt that the government in Rangoon is being honest and sincere. This despite the strong desire to finally put what had been an almost 70 year "civil war" behind them.
Under the terms of the ceasefire, agreed to by the Karen National Union and other national people's armed groups, the Burmese Army agrees to withdraw from key areas as a sign of good faith within a month, the parties agree to settle terms and rules for the ceasefire, and the signatories agree to work on a "political discussion." The 6 decades long fighting for the Karen Nation was officially suspended in March of 2012, with sporadic incidents since then, after a preliminary ceasfire was signed.
The armed groups will not disarm during this ceasefire.
But the fact the Burmese Army are attacking other ethnic groups and seemingly trying to divide the national peoples is alarming to many, including the Karen civil groups who are opposing this ceasefire.
Touted as far and wide as possible by the US State Department and Rangoon as a "major breakthrough", many among the national peoples seeking autonomy and justice from the regime are showing that this "breakthrough" is thin, weak, and possibly ephemeral.