Saturday, June 20, 2009

Insurgent opinions on possible rejection of border guard force

Kon Hadae, IMNA

IMNA has conducted interviews with members of three ethnic armed groups which have continued to fight the Burmese government State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) forces, about their opinions on what the SPDC will do if ceasefire groups refuse to transition to the controversial Border Guard Force (BGF).

“In my opinion, the SPDC is going to find another way to organize the ceasefire groups [as border guard forces] which do not accept the SPDC’s demand, or it will renew fighting to make these groups accept their [SPDC] demand, “ Shan State Army South (SSAS) spokes person Saing Main told IMNA. “Because according to the SPDC’s 2008 constitution, there must be only one army in the country. So the SPDC must put pressure on those groups who do not accept until they follow the SPDC demands.” Forming in 1996, the SSAS has never formed a ceasefire agreement with the SPDC.

He added, “As the SPDC is aiming to place all ceasefire forces under their army, the SPDC must pressure these groups until it is able control them within their [SPDC’s] army.”

In May 2008 the SPDC pushed through a referendum on the constitution, in preparation for the 2010 election. The vote for the referendum occurred days after Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, which killed over 120,000 and displaced over 2,000,000. Despite the disaster, the Burmese government went through with the vote on the constitutional referendum. According to the government there was a 98% voter turnout, and 92% of the population voted yes to the referendum.

IMNA also spoke with Khu Oo Dee, secretary of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), who said, “The groups, which do not follow the SPDC demand to become a border guard force, the SPDC will organize these group anyhow, until the SPDC can get what they want. Finally, If the SPDC is not successful, the SPDC will put on pressure by fighting again”, The KNPP Formed in 1957, and fought against the SPDC until entered a gentlemen’s agreement in March, 1995 to stop fighting while it negotiated a ceasefire . However after 3 months, the SPDC incursions into KNPP territory undermined elements of the agreement and brought about a renewal in fighting.

But vice chairman of the Karen National Union (KNU), Pado David Takapaw, gave his opinion that even with the ceasefire groups which do not agree with the SPDC asking their groups to change into border guard forces, the SPDC will not fight those groups, because there has already been international pressure on the SPDC, as the SPDC currently fights the KNU. The KNU, which formed in 1947, entered a gentleman’s agreement to stop fighting, while negotiating a ceasefire in 2004. However the informal ceasefire collapsed after the KNU refused to give up their arms to the SPDC.

Approximately 17 groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the SPDC throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Kokang group known as “Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army” and the United State Wa Army (USWA) have rejected the SPDC proposal’s thus far. The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the Karen Peace Force (KPF) have both been working with SPDC forces in advance of their future involvement as BGF’s as stated in a May IMNA article. Many of the remaining groups, recently including the New Mon State Party (NMSP) have been formally offered the option to become a BGF but have yet to make a decision.

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