Elections mean nothing to Myanmar’s ethnic armies

LOI TAI LENG, Whether the country is ruled by brutal military dictators or democratically elected civilians, rebels who control this jungle enclave have made one thing very clear: they want nothing to do with Myanmar.

The country once known as Burma is preparing for its first elections in 20 years, the final step in a democratic “road map” it says will end almost half a century of unbroken army rule.

But the ethnic groups who have fought for more than 50 years to defend this mountainous region sandwiched between Thailand and China have little interest in the political process.

Myanmar, they say, has never been their country.

“We are Shan, we are not Burmese. We have a different language, a different culture,” said Yawdmuang, the Shan State army’s foreign affairs chief. Continue reading “Elections mean nothing to Myanmar’s ethnic armies”

Village militia campaign leads to arrests in Yebyu Township

HURFOM, Yebyu: Starting in January 2010, Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 282, led by Major Nyi Nyi Soe, began ordering residents of Alaesakhan village, in Tenasserim Division’s Yebyu Township, to force a village militia.
According to a villager in Alaesakhan, Major Nyi Nyi Soe ordered residents to start militia trainings; every household in the village was ordered to contribute one member to the new force. Individuals uninterested in joining were told that they would be forced to pay a monthly tax of 6,000 kyat following the militia’s formation. Following the issuance of Nyi Nyi Soe’s orders, many Alaesakhan residents fled from the village to their plantations, in order to avoid militia membership.
HURFOM’s field reporter learned that many villagers are reluctant to join militias because Mon rebel groups, including the Nai Chan Dein and Nai Bin groups, are active in the region. Villagers also complained that as members of the militia they would be under the command of LIB No. 282, and would likely be sent to particularly dangerous areas in the region in place of the battalion.
One villager quoted Major Nyi Nyi Soe’s speech to HURFOM, “If all of you want to protect your village, you must join the militia, don’t worry about the guns or if the government will support you, just join the militia and you will also get support from the government. If all of you have guns, you don’t need to afraid of rebel groups.”
“They just want to put us in dangerous places, because villagers have no power to fight both of them [the battalion and the armed groups], if something happens [while we are on duty] the battalion can blame it on us. We are at the mercy of both groups”, said a 32 year-old Alaesakhan villager. Continue reading “Village militia campaign leads to arrests in Yebyu Township”

Chiang Rai border shoot out leaves one dead

The Pha Muang Task Force clashed with drug traffickers crossing the border in Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai province, killing one. A unit of the Task Force was patrolling the area near Ban E-Kor in Mae Chan District when they encountered 6 men who opened fire on the unit. The members of the Task Force returned fire, resulting in a 10 minute firefight with the drug traffickers. The traffickers fled back across the border leaving one of their members dead at the scene and abandoning a .38mm weapon, a small amount of heroin and 3.1 million baht in cash.