Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tension grows between southern Wa, junta

By Hseng Khio Fah

(Shanland) -The junta military has imposed a new order on the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s southern region along the Thai-Burma border following the Wa’s rejection of the junta’s demands to become a border security force, say sources.

Earlier this year, the junta told the Wa to either become a border security force or return to the Sino-Burma border where they originally came from.

Now, in response to the Wa’s non-compliance, the new order, imposed from yesterday, June 1, states that whenever Wa soldiers from any brigade (southern area) travel anywhere, they must first explain why to the area commanders, giving great detail. The source also added that security around the Wa border had been also tightened.

“If they [Wa] go in cars, even the make and model of their cars need to be reported,” the source, from the Thai-Burma border, said.

Brig-Gen Kyaw Phyoe (Photo)

On 18 May, southern Wa officers were reminded again about the border guard force by Brig-Gen Kyaw Phyoe, Commander of the Kengtung-based Triangle Region Command, while he was visiting Monghsat and Mongton townships, opposite Chiangmai.

The deadline for compliance ended on May 31. So far the Wa have refused to comply with demands.

In addition, the junta military is also pressing ahead in its efforts to take the 171st military region’s three sensitive positions in the southern area. These are 6,654ft-high mountain Loi Ksarm Hsoong, strategic mountain pass Kiu Hulom, and Hwe Yao, opposite Chiangmai’s Wiang Haeng district.

On 29 May, following a day-long meeting at Hwe Aw, southern Wa officers from 171st brigade, 248th (Hoyawd) and 518th (Mongyawn), decided it would not agree to the junta’s demands to become a border security force, but would comply with the new order and report their travels, the source said. The southern Wa officers are also preparing military supplies and food, in case fighting breaks out.

“We [the Wa] won’t start fighting,” the source quoted a Wa officer saying.

All soldiers who returned to their villages have been called back to their commands. Their families and children have been sent away from the military region, said a local villager in Nakawngmu, Mongton township, adding: “They [Wa family] prepared the food. They dried sticky rice and pounded it with meat.”

Similarly, the Burmese Army’s Brigade #55 was reported to have arrived in the area. It has also been conducting security patrols in every village in Mongton township with local military units’ cooperation.

“On 9 May, Nakawngmu Area Commander warned the villagers to stay close to their homes as the security tightened between them and the Wa. Because of the warning, villagers were worried the situation would be getting worse,” a source said.

On the other hand, since the middle of May, when the Wa officers made an announcement not to travel unnecessarily but use the phone instead, the Wa from the Sino-Burma border and the Thai-Burma border have travelled less to each other.

The Southern Wa area, known as the 171st Military Region, stretches from Mongton township to Tachilek township opposite Maehongson, Chiangmai and Chiangrai, Thailand.

Related story: Southern Wa get fresh squeeze, 21 May 2009.

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