ETHNIC NATIONALITIES COUNCIL (Union of Burma)
|Is Burma Army against the President's Peace Plans?|
|By Zin Linn|
|Monday, 27 February 2012 16:24|
Naypyidaw, 27 February (Asiantribune.com):President Thein Sein led Burmese government and the Shan State Army to sign a ceasefire agreement as a major breakthrough at Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, on 2 December 2011.
However, armed conflicts between the Burmese army and the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) cannot stop simply since Burmese soldiers have been combating uncontrollably so far. The dilemma is that even though there is a truce between the Burmese government and SSA-S, the Burma army becomes visible to move more actively particularly in the Eastern Shan State, where its Triangle Region Command headquarters is based in Kengtung.
According to the Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.), the Burmese army makes use of the ceasefire to renovate its strategic roads and garrisons on the Thai-Burmese border. Its units are also raking through the countryside to drive the SSA forces to their bases. As a result, the two armies encountered one another in a village-tract outside of the Tachilek Township, which lies on the border with Thailand.
Major Sai Lao Hseng, spokesperson for the SSA-S, said to the Democratic Voice of Burma that the fighting broke out after the Burmese army pressured the group to pull back its troops to the border. He claims, however, that there had been no provision for its withdrawal from the Mongtaw and Monghta regions in the ceasefire agreement.
“They threatened to open fire on us if we didn’t leave and then actually did fire at us,” he said. Two personnel from the SSA–S and three Burmese soldiers died in action.
Homong and Monghta have been designated as main offices for the SSA in keeping with the 16 January agreement, Shan Herald Agency for News said. Moreover, the agreement does not include anything about its forces outside the territory. It also emphasizes that the president’s peacemaking envoy, Aung Min, had agreed that Burma army units would be responsible for security on the main roads and towns, and the SSA the rest – at least for the time being.
Furthermore, any difference between the two sides should be resolved through negotiations and not by force, S.H.A.N. reported.
However, there were unavoidable armed clashes between Burmese armed forces and SSA–S troops that refused to be hard pressed. At least 11 clashes have taken place between the two, with 7 of them in the Eastern Shan State; three battles in Mongiang and four in Tachilek also took place. And the clashes in Tachilek, as each day passes, are growing into a long-lasting battle, reports S.H.A.N.
Another inexcusable story has occurred in the northern Shan State. According to S.H.A.N., Lt. Ta Long of SSA was invited to dinner by the Hsipaw-based Infantry Battalion 23 at its foothill camp near the village of Haikwi on 17 February. Candidly, he had appeared there with his wife and their three-year-old son on a motorbike. Ta Long was ambushed by soldiers from IB 23 on his way back. His wife was killed. As for his son, his whereabouts are unknown, while Kawli Media says that he is believed to be at the Lashio regional HQ.
Due to that cunning plot, at least two clashes have taken place between the two sides since the ambush, one on 17 February and one two more days later.
Those clashes after the ceasefire accord spotlight the government’s peacemaking deals to be untrustworthy. While the government is working towards peace deals, its armed forces are doing inconceivable damage.
It is suitable to quote the viewpoint of Shan Herald Agency for News on Friday. It says, “The obvious question therefore is: Are the government and the army playing good guy and bad guy against the armed resistance movements? Or, is the army bent on discrediting the government whenever and wherever the opportunity is given?”
Since the government has publicly declared its reform plans including national reconciliation, it must conscientiously control its armed forces to support the peacemaking efforts. But, right now, the Burma army seems to be disobeying the peace plan made by head of its government. If it was a made-up story, the people would blame the president as an anti-reformist. The consequences of the army’s contradictory acts will push the country into another abysmal of misfortune.
According to some analysts, the government’s democracy plan is similar to imaginary words that do not go with its visible dealings such as overlooking to restore law and order, neglecting to allow creation of trade unions, not allowing public protests and so on.
However, the government should not mislead the people’s hope for change. The ethnic armed groups do not completely trust the government’s peace talks. The fact is that while offering the peace proposal, the government has been increasing its deployment of armed forces in the conflict zones.
Above and beyond, the Burma army has been constantly carrying on combating the ethnic rebels which may lead to damaging the president’s reform aspiration.
The Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC) was originally established as the “Ethnic Nationalities Solidarity and Cooperation Committee” (ENSCC) in August 2001.