Mistaken Identity reveals new Mon Splinter group behind extortion effort

Mon 31 Aug 2009, IMNA, Rai Maraoh
A new Mon insurgent group is revealed to be demanding money from farmers in Mudon Township, after it was mistake by farmers for an older less active group.

A week ago, when famers were confronted with demands in a letter from an insurgent group for money, they identified the group as the Mon Peace and Defense Front (MPDF) by the symbol on the letter. However, when asked, the MPDF denied any involvement in the demands for money.

After the news about the demands reached a senior abbot in the area, the abbot called the MPDF group leader, major general Nai Aung Naing asking about the letter villagers had received. Major general Nai Aung Naing, now a living as a monk, denied that the group he previously led had any involvement in the demands.

After reviewing an actual copy of the letter sent to farmers in Mudon Township, in Kamawet, Naing-hlone and Lettet villages, IMNA has confirmed the letter is in fact from a new Mon splinter group. The New group calls itself the Mon Defense Front (MDF).

“Three members from that group, with guns, went, themselves, to the farmers. However in some cases they ordered their assistants to deliver the letter, when they went to other farmers,” said a resident close to one of the farmers that received a letter. “They told the farmers to be ready for their demands (money) after the farmers were given the letter.” The letter states that farmers will have to pay 1,500 kyat per acre. After farmers received the letter, they prepared the money to pay the (MDF) group for when they come to collect the tax.

“The recent letter issued is not from the MPDF group – this group is a new Mon splinter group that has only three core members,” according to a district committee member from the New Mon State Party (NMSP). “They are now active between Kyainnseikyi Township, Karen State and Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State.”

When asked how the NMSP knew this, the district committee member explained the group had been formed by 3 soldiers that had broken away from the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), the armed wing of the NMSP. The Committee member could not confirm the exact size of the group, as it appears to have assistants, but reiterated that its core strength appeared to be just the 3 ex-soldiers.

According to the letter, the money collected from the farmers will be used for the MDF’s development efforts. “After Nai Aung Naing denied his involvement, the abbot complained to the Southeast Region Commander,” said a monk. “About 40 Burmese soldiers came to the village and they have checked with the farms and the NMSP administrative committee office in Mudon Township. Also they have stayed for the last week.”

“Some of the farmers said they don’t have the money to pay… But if farmers received the letter they have to be prepared to be ready to pay,” a farmer said.

The MDF had already given the letters to farmers by the second week of this month, but have yet to collect any of the money. Some sources have speculated that the group has not returned to the area they distributed the letter because the Burmese soldiers have continued to guard in the area.

The 3 MDF members are armed, and in possession of at least an M-16, an AK-47 and a third unidentified carbine.

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