Ceasefire Celebration Fools No One

October 20th, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
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The military’s driving agenda behind the NCA has always been to divide and rule EAOs while maintaining Buddhist-Bamar supremacy.

The Myanmar military junta’s ceremony to mark the eighth anniversary of the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) reveals the latest of its superficial efforts to craft an exit strategy towards “normalcy” following its failed coup. While ostensibly celebrating the futile NCA, the junta continues to intensify its ruthless attacks against civilians nationwide. The international community must not be fooled by the junta’s utterly hypocritical attempt to revive the failed and harmful NCA, as well as any so-called peace talks. Any semblance of peace will only be possible alongside justice and accountability for the military’s crimes.

In the days leading up to the NCA anniversary, the junta continued its attacks on civilians unabated. Never complying with any form of ceasefire, on 9 October 2023, the junta attacked an internally displaced persons camp in Mung Lai Hkyet Village, Kachin State, killing at least 29 people, including 13 children, and injuring 57 others. Similarly, on 4 October 2023, a junta airstrike seriously damaged a school and civilian homes in Hpruso Township, Karenni State. The junta’s campaign of violence is nothing new. 11 October 2023 marked the six-month anniversary of the Pa Zi Gyi massacre in Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region, where a junta airstrike killed 155 people, including over 30 children. These massacres are not a consequence of Myanmar’s multifaceted crisis but instead the junta’s deliberate strategy to terrorize the people. The junta’s endless assault on the Myanmar people exists in sharp contrast to its self-interested posturing that the long-dead NCA is alive and well.

In this vein, the junta’s NCA anniversary ceremony in Naypyidaw on 15 October 2023 was not and could never have been a step towards sustainable peace, despite the attendance of some Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) who are NCA signatories; foreign governments; and non-governmental organizations. In boycotting the event, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Chin National Front (CNF), and Karen National Union (KNU) – who signed the NCA and are now referred to as Ethnic Resistance Organizations (EROs), as they resist the military junta and take part in the current people’s revolution – declared that the junta’s illegal coup attempt and “repeated vicious attacks that target civilians” have rendered the NCA invalid. They further warned that the junta’s subsequent manipulation of the NCA, along with its bid to hold sham elections, “will deepen the crisis and push the country into protracted conflict.” Similarly, in April 2022, four EROs – including the CNF and the KNU – vehemently rejected the junta’s futile attempt to revive NCA-related talks. Simply put, the irrelevant NCA cannot work, as Myanmar’s crisis is no longer an armed conflict between the military and EAOs, but instead the junta’s own violent rampage.

The NCA was already dead on arrival when originally signed on 15 October 2015 by the Myanmar military; the Thein Sein Government; and ten EAOs, two of which signed later in February 2018. From the start, the NCA’s process was deeply flawed and exclusive, lacking any guarantee for equality and self-determination for ethnic nationalities. The military’s driving agenda behind the NCA has always been to divide and rule EAOs while maintaining Buddhist-Bamar supremacy. In the end, seven of the 15 invited EAOs refused to sign in October 2015 due to the exclusion of stakeholders and mistrust. The NCA has therefore never been a genuine, praiseworthy nationwide “peace deal” – and never will be.

Several countries, however, continue to engage with the illegal junta to revive the failed, so-called peace talks, clearly ignoring the junta’s intensified violence against civilians. Thirty-two diplomats attended the NCA ceremony, including three who gave supportive remarks: the Thai Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Vikrim Misri, and Chinese Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Deng Xijun. Last week, former Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen – alongside Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation – expressed intentions to engage with the junta to “broker peace”.

These forms of engagement, however, will only embolden the junta to continue its brutality against civilians rather than move towards peace. Considering the extensive evidence of the junta’s ongoing mass atrocity crimes, including increased airstrikes and arson against civilians, it is unfathomable that the international community continues to endorse the meaningless NCA. The international community, including ASEAN and its member states, must not leverage the junta’s façade of peace efforts to transition into “business as usual” – enabling the junta to falsely claim legitimacy, normalize its widespread and systematic violence, and force the Myanmar people back into the dark era under military boots, with enjoyment of blanket impunity.

Instead, the international community must unequivocally denounce the junta’s weaponization of the dead NCA. The junta must also be denied any legitimacy through diplomatic visits, financial and technical support, and other engagements. Waiting for the junta to change its murderous behavior does not and will not work to end the violence. The international community must impose a comprehensive global arms embargo against the military, and increase coordinated and targeted sanctions on junta-linked entities. The path to peace also necessarily involves holding the military accountable for its decades-long mass atrocity crimes and actualizing justice for the Myanmar people.

Today, the people of Myanmar are building peace from the bottom up, by dismantling institutionalized structures of violence, such as the military, and reimagining Myanmar society as inclusive and collaborative across ethnic and religious lines. Rather than fall prey to the junta’s desperate grasp on the NCA, the international community must instead align itself with the will of the people, and support the Spring Revolution’s efforts to build sustainable and inclusive peace for a federal democratic Myanmar.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Joint Statement Regarding the 8th Anniversary of the Signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)

By All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Chin National Front and Karen National Union

Open Letter regarding the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) from Ethnic Revolution Organizations (EROs) to the NCA witnesses and International Community

By All Burma Students’ Democratic Front, Chin National Front and Karen National Union

Myanmar: 28 civilians killed in military air strike – new investigation and witness testimony

By Amnesty International

BHRN Denounces Junta Artillery Strike on the Mone Lai Khat IDP Camp in Kachin State

By Burma Human Rights Network

Open Letter to Komnas HAM in regard to the Alleged Provision of Arms and Equipment from PT. Pindad, PT. PAL, and PT. Dirgantara Indonesia to Myanmar Military Junta

By Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Myanmar/Burma Solidarity

Position Statement of CSOs Nexus Consortium – Tanintharyi regarding UNOCHA’s AHCT (Area of Humanitarian Country Team) Process

By CSOs Nexus Consortium – Tanintharyi

UNOCHA မှ ဆောင်ရွက်နေသော AHCT (Area of Humanitarian Country Team) လုပ်ငန်းစဥ်ကိစ္စရပ်နှင့် ပတ်သက်၍ CSOs Nexus Consortium – Tanintharyi ၏ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By CSOs Nexus Consortium – Tanintharyi

U.N. Member States: Coordinate a Global Arms Embargo on Myanmar

By Fortify Rights

Bloodstained Gateways: Escalating SAC abuses in northern Burma pave the way for BRI expansion

By Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

သွေးစွန်းနေသော တံခါးပေါက်များ- ကချင်ပြည်နယ်နှင့် ရှမ်းပြည်နယ် မြောက်ပိုင်းရှိ စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ လူ့အခွင့်အရေးချိုးဖောက်မှုများ ပိုမိုပြင်းထန်လာခြင်းသည် BRI – ပိုးလမ်းမစီမံကိန်း တိုးချဲ့မှုကို လမ်းခင်းပေးသည်။

By Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

Statement of Condemnation of the Myanmar Military Junta’s Attacks against a Kachin IDP Camp that Killed Innocent Civilians

By Karen National Union

မုန်လိုင်ခက်စစ်ရှောင်စခန်းအား ဦးတည်တိုက်ခိုက်ခဲ့သည့် စစ်ကောင်စီ၏ ဗုံးကြဲတိုက်ခိုက်မှုအပေါ် ပြင်းထန်စွာရှုံ့ချကြောင်း ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By Legal Aid Network

UN Member States Must Hold the Myanmar Military Junta Accountable for the Massacre of IDPs

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Statement by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the Burma Military Regime’s October 9 Attack on Munglai Hkyet, Kachin State

By United States Mission to the United Nations

Burma Regime Attack in Kachin State

By U.S. Department of States



Coup Watch September 2023: Junta Destabilized by Trouble in Its Top Ranks

By By ALTSEAN-Burma, Asia Democracy Network, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Burma Human Rights Network, Initiatives for International Dialogue, International Federation for Human Rights, Progressive Voice, US Campaign for Burma and Women’s Peace Network

September 2023 – Summary of Monthly Situation Update

By Burma Human Rights Network

Deciphering Myanmar’s Peace Process – A Reference Guide (2022 – 2023)

By Burma News International and Myanmar Peace Monitor

Deadly Bombing of Munglai Hkyet IDP Camp. – Issue 125

By Burma News International and Myanmar Peace Monitor

Bloodstained Gateways: Escalating SAC abuses in northern Burma pave the way for BRI expansion

By Kachin Women’s Association Thailand

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar – Advance Unedited Version

By UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”