An incursion by Myanmar’s army into northeastern Shan State has raised fears of more clashes with ethnic minority rebels that could exacerbate a refugee crisis at its border with economic and political ally China.
Some analysts are predicting a protracted conflict will be ignited in the region, which could anger Beijing and derail plans for army-ruled Myanmar’s first election in nearly two decades.

The Myanmar regime wants ethnic minorities to take part in the election and wants to recruit their fighters for an army-run border patrol force. The offensive could be an effort by Yangon to force the groups into submission.
The aim, analysts say, is to disarm and neutralise the insurgents, allowing the army to establish control over the rebellious region for the first time in its nearly five-decade rule.
However, the real target of the military is likely to be the United Wa State Army, a powerful force involved in the illicit drugs trade.

Myanmar’s armed forces entered the Kokang area and last week broke a 20-year ceasefire with rebels in the region when it overwhelmed the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), widely seen as the weakest of the area’s factions.
The junta kept silent about the incursion for several days and announced via state media that the clashes occurred after troops were attacked by rebels holding 39 policemen hostage.
A recently formed ethnic minority alliance known as the Myanmar Peace and Democracy Front (MPDF) has called for dialogue and has issued statements to the regime, and to Beijing, urging an end to hostilities.
The alliance groups the MNDAA, the Kachin Independence Organisation and the United Wa State Party, the ethnic Wa armed faction’s political wing. The groups are aware that a joint effort is necessary to counter the army. continue

UN seeks access to Burmese refugees in southern China

BANGKOK, 1 September 2009 (IRIN) – The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is seeking access to thousands of Burmese refugees who have fled fighting between Myanmar government troops and ethnic minority groups, saying their needs should be assessed.

“We are working together with the Chinese authorities to try to get access to the area,” said Kitty McKinsey, regional spokeswoman for UNHCR.

“While we believe their material needs are being taken care of, we haven’t been able to assess what their needs for international protection are,” she told IRIN in Bangkok on 1 September.

Thousands of ethnic Chinese refugees from Myanmar’s northeastern Shan state have streamed into China’s southern Yunnan province in recent weeks to escape the fighting, which started after the Myanmar army moved into Kokang, a region bordering Yunnan.

Citing Chinese government figures, McKinsey said 37,000 Burmese had crossed the border into Yunnan province. Of these, 13,000 are staying in tents provided by the provincial authorities, while the rest are being accommodated by friends and relatives.

“The Yunnan provincial authorities are giving medical care, shelters, tents and clothing,” said McKinsey.

China is one of the few countries in Asia that has signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, which McKinsey said obliged the country to allow the UN Refugee Agency to assess first-hand the needs of the refugees.


OVER 500 people may have been killed in the first flair up of violence between the Burma¿s ruling military junta and the Kokang ethnic minority

The situation in the Burmese northern Shan state remains incredibly volatile with thousands of Burmese troops streaming into the area with large numbers stationed at the border of Wa territory, the region’s best armed minority which boasts as many as 30,000 armed troops and who are regularly named as the area’s biggest drug producers.

The Burmese are focusing a possible attack on the United Wa Army on the town on Mending which has a population of about 10,000 and is only 30 minutes drive from the Chinese border town of Qingshiu tjhat serves as the primary crossing point for the Wa.

While Burma has officially said that 36 of their soldiers were killed with one Chinese casualty after stray arms fire cross the border the fatalities list is more than ten times higher with 500 Kokang soldiers and civilians killed, according to sources in the ethnic army who spoke to The Australian via mobile phone from inside Burma. Amongst these are believed to be a number of Chinese nationals living in Burma

Citizens of China who remain stranded in the remote border town of Nansan in Yunnan province, have called on the Chinese government for humanitarian aid and for the international community to step in.continue
Over 500 people

Amnesty Offer to Kokang Troops—Leaders Face Manhunt

Burmese regime military commanders in the restive Kokang area of Burma’s Shan State have offered an amnesty to troops of the Kokang ceasefire group Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), while launching a manhunt for four key MNDAA leaders, according to military sources.

The four MNDAA leaders—Phon Kya Shin, Phon Kya Phu, Phon Tar Shwin and Phon Tarli in Burmese—have been accused by state-run media of involvement in the illegal production of weapons and drugs.The manhunt was ordered as hundreds of regime soldiers were newly deployed in the Kokang region of southeastern Shan State. The deployment was ordered by Lt-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, chief of No.2 Bureau of Special Operation (BSO).

The offensive, reportedly aimed at the total defeat and eradication of the MNDAA, is commanded by Min Aung Hlaing who recently based in Lashio, capital of Northern Shan State. Continue reading “Amnesty Offer to Kokang Troops—Leaders Face Manhunt”

A Burmese delegation led by Deputy Home Minister Brig-Gen Phone Swe met the Chinese Minister for Public Security Meng Jian at a high level meeting in China on Monday.

Burma’s push to control border sends China into a spin
by Larry Jagan
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 21:55

Bangkok (Mizzima) – An uneasy calm has returned to the Chinese border with Burma after a series of diplomatic exchanges between the two countries.

A Burmese delegation led by Deputy Home Minister Brig-Gen Phone Swe met the Chinese Minister for Public Security Meng Jian at a high level meeting in China on Monday.

“Myanmar [Burma] has promised to restore peace and stability along the border as soon as possible,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu told reporters at a regular press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

The two countries’ diplomats have been on an over-drive in the past week after the Burmese Army launched a surprise offensive to crush the Kokang ethnic rebel group along the border with China.

More than 30,000 refugees crossed the border late last week, fleeing the fighting, according to the Chinese authorities in Yunnan where they took shelter.

The attack on the Kokang, or the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) as they call themselves shocked Beijing and rocked its normally very close relations with the junta.

Since the fighting started there has been a flurry of urgent diplomatic activity by Beijing, as the Chinese government tried to stabilise the situation before it could really get out of hand. Bilateral meetings were held in Beijing and in the Burmese capital Naypitdaw. Alarmed and surprised, Beijing also sent hundreds of extra troops and armed policemen to the area to quell any potential violence.

The Chinese central authorities were extremely upset by the effect of the Burmese military actions along the border, and were furious they were not informed before-hand, according to a senior Chinese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Continue reading “A Burmese delegation led by Deputy Home Minister Brig-Gen Phone Swe met the Chinese Minister for Public Security Meng Jian at a high level meeting in China on Monday.”

Activist say recent clashes may link to Chinese planned Salween dam

The three days of heavy clashes, 27-29 August, between the Burma Army and Kokang may link to Chinese plans to build the Upper Salween Dam also known as Kunlong Dam in northern Shan State, near Kokang territory, according to Sai Khur Hseng, Spokesperson of Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization.

Today, the Shan Sapawa together with the Salween Watch coalition of environmental groups released a statement to call on China to immediately halt all their investments in the dam.
map-sapawa The recent clashes which killed about 200 people and caused over 30,000 refugees to flee to China took place just east of the town of Kunlong, about 15 km from the planned dam site, said the statement.

“The renewed fighting and refugee influx into Yunnan should be a wake-up call to China about the risks of investing in Burma,” said Sai Khur Hseng.

According to the statement, a team of Chinese and Burmese technicians have been conducting feasibility studies for the proposed dam, 25 km from the Chinese border, which is estimated to produce 2,400 MW, after the plans to construct the dam were announced in April 2007 by two Chinese companies, Hanergy Holding Group (formerly Farsighted Investment Group) and Gold Water Resources Company. Continue reading “Activist say recent clashes may link to Chinese planned Salween dam”

As the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution draws near, arrests, searches and monitoring of monks have been stepped up by the authorities in monasteries in Buddhist majority Burma.

Monks under close surveillance
by Mizzima News
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 17:55

New Delhi (Mizzima) – As the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution draws near, arrests, searches and monitoring of monks have been stepped up by the authorities in monasteries in Buddhist majority Burma.

Three policemen and an officer from the Religious Department of Magwe division on August 30 raided the room of the head monk U Yaywada of Ngwe Taung monestry in Chauk Township, Magwe Division in Central Burma.

“They came and searched the monastery at about 4.30 p.m. on Sunday. The chief monk was not present when they came and started searching. He has been on a trip for a long time. They searched the chief monk’s room and directed us to inform them when he comes back,” a young monk close to the monestry told Mizzima.

“U Yarwada was said to be active during the Saffron Revolution. I wonder whether that was the reason why they came and searched,” he said.

Similarly, monks from monasteries in Chauk Township said that some monasteries were being watched by policemen in plain clothes.

“We knew the police were from Chauk Township as soon as we saw them. They are found in houses and street corners near the monasteries. Their hand phones are tucked at the waist. Almost all the monasteries are being monitored,” said a monk. Continue reading “As the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution draws near, arrests, searches and monitoring of monks have been stepped up by the authorities in monasteries in Buddhist majority Burma.”