Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Showdown in the Wa capital

By Hseng Khio Fah

(SHAN) -More details on the meeting between leaders of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Burma’s junta negotiators on the question of transforming the former into a border security force have emerged, according to a reliable source close to the Wa leadership on the Sino-Burma border.

The UWSA hotly rejected the junta’s proposal to transform itself into 326 strong units when its leaders and Military Affairs Security (MAS) chief Lt-Gen Ye Myint met on 7 June, at its main base in Panghsang from 14:00-17:00.

An unidentified Wa commanders during the meeting rhetorically asked, “How is it so easy for you to break the solemn promises given to us by your former leader General Khin Nyunt?”

He compared the Wa situation to the ongoing trial of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“You even dare to arrest and imprison the daughter of your national hero and leader General Aung San despite international pressure,” the officer was quoted as saying. “Our future could be even worse than hers as we are not from the same race. No one knows what future is there for us if we give in to your demands.”

The Wa leaders also reconfirmed that it could not withdraw its troops along the Thai-Burma border as it had made huge sacrifices not only in terms of lives but also finances.

The junta told the Wa last month to become a border security force and to withdraw from three strategic positions, opposite Chiangmai province.

The group recalled how the junta military had made promises to them during the war against the Mong Tai Army (MTA) leader Khun Sa, between 1989 and 1996, and Shan State Army (SSA) “South” in 2005.

“You said we would be free to occupy Khun Sa’ areas, if we could remove its troops. We lost tens of thousands of soldiers in order to seize those areas,” the officer was reported as saying, “We had always agreed to your demands in the past. But from now on we can no longer follow your conflicting orders.

Lt-Gen Ye Myint responded by saying that the proposal represented the wishes of their Head of State Senior Gen Than Shwe. “We are only messengers. We can’t make decisions.”

Since April, the junta military has been pressuring all ceasefire groups across Burma to transform into border guard forces which will be commanded by the ceasefire officers but supervised by the Burma Army officers. So far, a total of 8 out of the 13 existing ceasefire groups have rejected the demand, according to a survey made by SHAN.

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