The trial of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be complicating the ruling junta’s efforts to persuade armed ceasefire groups to transform themselves into border security forces, according to sources close to the groups.
“We can’t trust this government because it has dared to charge even the world-respected democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Nai ong Ma-nge, a spokesperson for the New Mon State Party (NMSP), one of several ceasefire groups now under pressure from the Burmese regime to form a border security force.
The NMSP’s leaders met with the junta’s Southeast Regional Commander Maj-Gen Thet Naing Win in the Mon State capital of Moulmein on June 7 to discuss the issue of forming a border security force under Burmese military control. A source close to the party said the NMSP was told to make a decision on the proposal by July.
“Regarding the border guard proposal, we have to think deeply about it, because we can see [from the trial against Suu Kyi] that the junta could turn against us at any time,” said Nai ong Ma-nge. Other ceasefire groups have also been paying close attention to developments in Rangoon, where Suu Kyi is on trial at the infamous Insein Prison on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest.
Sein Kyi, the assistant editor of the Shan Herald Agency for News, said that ceasefire groups in Shan State have also stiffened their opposition to the regime’s border security force proposal because of the way the junta is handling Suu Kyi’s case.
“They are saying that this confirms their suspicions about the regime,” he said.
Three ceasefire groups based in Shan State—the United Wa State Army, the ethnic-Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Mong La-based National Democratic Alliance Army—were reported to have rejected border guard roles.
The groups told Chief of Military Affairs Security Lt-Gen Ye Myint recently that they would transform their armies into border security forces only after the country holds elections in 2010 and a new government is formed.
Htay Aung, a Burmese political analyst based in Thailand, said that although some ceasefire group leaders had been at least somewhat inclined to accept the junta’s proposed transition, the Suu Kyi trial has eroded what little trust they had in the junta’s motives.
A total of 17 insurgent groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling generals since 1989, according to official Burmese reports.