Monks and youth issue letter demanding Mon cease-fire group not transform into “border guards”

Fri 12 Jun 2009, Kon Hadai and Blai Mon
A group of Mon monks and students have sent a letter to Burma’s largest Mon political party urging it not to transform its armed wing into a government-controlled “Border Guard Force” (BGF) or participate in elections scheduled for 2010.

“We are worried that the NMSP [New Mon State Party] will join the 2010 election and will accept to the government plan to change the MNLA [Mon National Liberation Army] into ‘border guards,’” a youth member of the group told IMNA. “Because we know that these two things are not the way to solve our nation’s problems, we demanded the NMSP listen to us.”

Cease-fire groups across Burma have been urged by the country’s military government to join national elections and disarm their armed wings or bring them under nominal state control. Burma’s largest ceasefire army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), has refused the proposal. The large Kachin Independence Organization, meanwhile, appears to have accepted the general principle that its Kachin Independence Army must be transformed, though it says it has not necessarily agreed to become a BGF.

The letter to the NMSP, of which IMNA has obtained a copy, makes an explicit reference to the UWSA as it calls on the NMSP not transform the MNLA. An excerpt of the letter, which was sent to NMSP chairman Nai Htaw Mon on June 10, is translated below:

“NMSP should be aware that the Mon people and monks are together with the party to struggle for the self-determination, included in the letter.

The United Wa State Army has announced clearly that they won’t cooperate with the Burmese military as border guards and saying that the international community won’t recognize and accept the 2010 election as well.

It is not only the Mon people but also the monks who believe that it will not be beneficial if the NMSP joins the election or cooperates with the military as border guards. We know that The NMSP will do so as we believe.

We would like to inform authentically that our Mon people and the monks are together with NMSP to march and struggle to our primary goal of self-determinism.”

In January, the NMSP publicly announced it would not be participating in the 2010 elections, Burma’s first since ignoring the results of Burma’s last popular vote in 1990.

The NMSP has not, however, announced an official position on its plans for the MNLA. In an interview following a large party Congress in January, spokesman Nai Oung Mange told IMNA that the NMSP would wait to hear input from the Mon community before making a final decision about the MNLA.

“If the SPDC puts pressure on the NMSP to put their arms under the SPDC, we will consider that issue,” he told IMNA. “We will ask for opinions from monks, Mon organizations and also Mon people. Then the party will consider it again and make a decision.”

NMSP chairman Nai Htaw Mon said: “We are happy to hear from our Mon nation like this. We always welcome any suggestions and demands from our Nation.”

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