No celebration for founding of Wa army this year

Last Saturday, 17 April, was the 21st anniversary of the founding the United Wa State Army (UWSA), but the group did not hold any celebration, only some top officers were reported to have made visits to their disabled, according to sources on the Sino-Burma border.

Unlike last year, it had been a hush-hush affair, because of the current tension between the military junta and the group regarding Naypyitaw’s border guard force program, a source said.

“They [Wa top leaders] just went to comfort and give presents to those disabled,” he said.

Last year, the group held a big ceremony for its founding and was participated by tens of thousands of people from inside and outside including international news agencies.

The Wa mutiny on 17 April 1989 followed the rebellion by its northern neighbor Kokang on 11 March 1989, a month earlier. The two incidents had put down the 4-decade long armed struggle waged by the Beijing-backed Communist Party of Burma (CPB). The two and their allies since then have been on an uneasy truce with the country’s military rulers. But Kokang was attacked by the military junta in August 2009 and some of its members became a border guard force run by the Burma Army since.

The Wa said it is unlikely there will be any discussion on Naypyitaw’s BGF program as it had already revised and submitted a new counterproposal, which was rejected by Naypyitaw itself, according to an informed source who asked not to be named.

“We have already said how we wanted it to be. But they did not accept it. Like them, we can’t make any further compromise our proposal because we had already done enough.”

On 3 April, the Wa submitted its latest 8 point proposal to Naypyitaw, but it was turned down by the military junta on 9 April because Naypyitaw only wanted the group to transform itself into junta run border guard force and totally abide by the Naypyitaw’s BGF program, “nothing more and nothing less.”

So far, there is no sign of possible hostilities, a source from Panghsang said.

But on the other hand, more than ten military trucks were seen going back from Tangyan to Lashio, west of the Wa capital town Panghsang on 17 April, a source from Tangyan said.

A border watcher said it seemed the military junta was making preparations for war. “If not, then it is just trying to scare the group.”

According to the military junta announcement in March, all ceasefire groups would be declared as illegal organizations if they fail to agree with the border guard force program by 22 April.

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