Fracturing Ceasefires and Regional Security Threats

Mon National Libration Army (Photo by Kaowao Newsgroup)

Mon National Libration Army (Photo by Kaowao Newsgroup)
Mon National Libration Army (Photo by Kaowao Newsgroup)
HURFOM: September 7, 2009

Burma’s ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), has moved forward with its 7-points roadmap towards ‘Disciplined Democracy’ by

pressuring ethnic armed opposition groups to participate in this political process without guarantee of any rights for their people. 

Ethnic ceasefire groups including the Mon, Shan, Wa, Kachin and Ko-kang have faced pressure to transform their armed forces into Border Guard Forces (BGF) within in the border area, or into a Militia Force based only in villages.  In either case, both types of transformation of the ethnic armed groups would place them, for all intents and purposes, under the command of Burmese Army or Tatmadaw.  In transforming these armed groups, the Burmese Army would place their officers in key command positions within the new force, a first step in plans to assimilate all ethnic armies into the Burmese Army.

Concerned ethnic political parties and military leaders understand well this manipulation by the SPDC, therefore many major ethnic armed ceasefire groups decided to not transform their armed forces into a BGF or Militia Force. Additionally, they will not transform because the 2008 Constitution does not guarantee the ethnic groups’ rights to self-determination or self-autonomy.

At the end of August, the Burmese Army undertook a military offensive against the Kokang ethnic armed group with the intention of forcing them to surrender. In response to the sudden outbreak of violence, thousands of refugees have fled to China, where the Chinese communist government announced that this conflict and influx of refugees is a regional security threat.

In this vain, the SPDC has been applying continuous pressure to the remaining armed groups like the Kachin, Wa and Shan in the north, and to the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and its Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) in the south.  If the SPDC uses the Burmese Army and militarized pressure, thousands of more people will flee into China and Thailand.

The NMSP and MNLA refused to transform the MNLA into a BGF or Militia Force in an official reply to the SPDC Southeast Command’s request in early August.  The ceasefire can be broken and thousands of Mon refugees could flee into Thailand.  It is imperative then that the international community watches the situation in Burma, and provides as much protection as possible against suffering for the innocent ethnic people from Burma.

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