7 Ethnic Armed Groups Form New Alliance, Community Organizer Assassinated

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – March 18 Scenes
7 Ethnic Armed Groups Form New Alliance, Community Organizer Assassinated

In a significant development, seven ethnic armed groups, previously signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), convened in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a plenary meeting on March 18. Following deliberations, they announced the formation of a new coalition known as the 7 EAO Alliance, marking a departure from their previous affiliation under the NCA’s banner and redefining their objectives in response to the current political landscape.

Myanmar’s tumultuous political history has witnessed the emergence, renaming, leadership changes, and restructuring of armed organizations with remarkable frequency. As the protracted armed struggle continues, ethnic armed groups adapt their political and military goals and structures in tandem with shifts in the strategies and directions of opposing factions. This fluidity extends not only to internal changes within organizations but also to broader coalitions that coalesce and dissolve over time. Throughout the course of the civil war, coalitions such as MaDaTa, MaDaNyaTa, UNFC, NCCT, PPST, FPNCC, and the Brotherhood Alliance have risen and fallen. The formation of the 7 EAO Alliance represents the latest iteration in this dynamic evolution, uniting seven ethnic armed groups that were signatories to the NCA.

Of the signatory groups, barring PNLO/PNLA, the remainder currently abstain from direct conflict with the military council. Some of these groups possess limited armed capacity and espouse political resolutions to Myanmar’s ongoing crisis post-coup. Consequently, the newly established 7 EAO Alliance has declared its commitment to resolving the country’s political turmoil through peaceful means, advocating negotiations with relevant stakeholders until the establishment of a federal democratic union—a departure from the prevalent inclination towards armed solutions.

Leading the 7 EAO Alliance is General Yawd Serk of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), supported by Nai Aung Min from the New Mon State Party (NMSP). Notably, KNU/KNLA (PC) maintains significant territorial control despite minimal military activity, underscoring the alliance’s potential impact on addressing armed conflicts, refugee displacement, and civilian casualties in Shan, Mon, and Karen states.

In another development, the community was shaken by the tragic assassination of Khun Jolly, a prominent Kachin religious leader and community activist in Nanmati, Kachin State. Amidst ongoing armed conflicts in the region involving diverse armed factions, including ethnic armed forces, military council units, militias, and people’s defense forces, the perpetrator behind Khun Jolly’s assassination remains unidentified. As investigations continue, the absence of claims of responsibility further compounds the mystery surrounding the incident. Khun Jolly, revered for his leadership within community organizations like Pat Jasan, dedicated to combating drug proliferation, was targeted in an alarming escalation of violence.

While such targeted assassinations have regrettably become commonplace in the cities and villages of Kachin State, the deliberate targeting of a non-affiliated community leader like Khun Jolly underscores the escalating threat posed by armed conflict, lawlessness, and the use of violence to suppress dissenting voices.