Exiled student group signs peace plan

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By Todd Watson

The ABSDF formed in the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, which led to thousands being massacred by the military, fought alongside rebels and ethnic minority groups.

YANGOON: Earlier this month, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) agreed to a 12-point cease-fire plan with the government of Myanmar.

This is by far the most fruitful development to come from last week’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.

The ABSDF was formed in the aftermath of the 8888 Uprising, so called because it began on 8 August 1988, which led to the massacre of thousands of Burmese citizens by the military.

The ABSDF was a group of students who formed a militia and fought the Burmese government alongside ethnic minority groups and other rebel organizations.

The ABSDF leadership has been living in exile for 25 years, but a presence has remained in Myanmar and has engaged in armed clashes with the military repeatedly over the years.

Representatives of the ABSDF and the government held a joint press conference last Sunday, where they announced the following 12-point agreement:

1. To make efforts to ensure a nationwide cease-fire with accountability and responsibility on both sides;

2. To form an independent monitoring team responsible for ceasefires and local peace-making processes;

3. To officially invite diverse political forces, political parties, organizations, and persons for their inclusion in the country’s political processes;

4. To carry out continued discussions for the release of all remaining political prisoners;

5. To continue holding discussions on democratic affairs, national equality, and autonomy that have been proposed by the ABSDF;

6. To have rights to independently hold discussions and meetings on the results of ABSDF’s political talks, political stands, and processes with the public in accord with the laws;

7. To hold continued discussion on the removal of ABSDF from the “unlawful associations” list;

8. To hold continued discussions on the removal of ABSDF members from the government’s blacklist and the cancelation of charges against its members, in accordance with the law;

9. To have rights to liaise with local and foreign NGOs and CBOs in accordance with existing laws;

10. To have rights to engage with news agencies and media freely and independently;

11. To continue discussions on opening liaison offices in Kaly, Payathonsu, Muse and Loikaw which have been suggested by ABSDF for the smooth operation of communications channels including local peace-making processes and ceasefires;

12. To agree to a Code of Conduct which is to be observed by both armies (ABSDF and government);

The two sides also agreed to hold a second round of talks this November.

This report first appeared in
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