Ethnic armed groups silent over junta’s BGF proposal

Though the deadline by the Burmese military junta has expired, ethnic armed groups with ceasefire agreements with the regime are not responding to its Border Guard Force proposal.

The Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army-KNU/KNLA Peace Council, which split from the mother organization KNU in 2007, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and Kachin Independence Organization are silent on the BGF issue through the April 22 deadline has passed.
061609-kia“We have nothing more to say on the issue. “There will never be an agreement between us,” said a senior UWSA officer on condition of anonymity.

The UWSA submitted a 9-point counter-proposal, including control of more territory and self governance, which was rejected by the junta.

“We are keeping track of what they are doing,” said the officer. If the Burmese Army launches a military offensive, “we have to defend ourselves but we will not attack first”, he added.

KIO delegates headed by Chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra met Northern Burma Regional Commander Maj-Gen Soe Win in Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State over the BGF issue on April 22, where the ethnic armed group spoke of alternative means to resolve the deadlock trying to pre-empt a military conflict, said a source close to KIO.

The KNU/KNLA Peace Council rejected the junta proposed transformation to a Militia Group by sending a letter to the regime on April 22.

“I would like to clarify to you that no matter what name you come up with, we will not agree or respond to any kind of military programme, which disturbs the peace and security of the lives of our Karen people,” said the Chairman of KNU/KNLA Peace Council Gen. Htay Maung in the letter to the junta’s Lt. Gen Ye Myint, Chief of Military Intelligence.

“Moreover, you are going against your own policy and propaganda in TV and your newspapers,” the General wrote. Continue reading “Ethnic armed groups silent over junta’s BGF proposal”

Environmentalists in northern Burma mark 40th Earth Day

Environmentalists in natural resource rich northern Burma marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day today with myriad programmes despite mounting military tension between the country’s military junta and ethnic armed groups.

A variety of environmental awareness programmes were held day and night on Earth Day in Kachin communities in Kachin State and Shan State in collaboration with environmental activists and churches, said Sino-Burma border-based environmentalists.
042210-earth-dayWith help from a local NGO Life Vision Foundation (LVF) and different Kachin churches, different programmes were organized in Muse, Kutkai and Lashio townships in Northeast Shan State. There were environmental awareness programmes for people at all levels, said organizers.

Over 300 saplings were planted this morning in the three townships and local ethnics like Shan, Palaung, Kachin and Lisu joined the activities in Namtau in Muse Township, said a LVF member. Continue reading “Environmentalists in northern Burma mark 40th Earth Day”

NMSP reaches final decision on joining BGF

The New Mon State Party has rejected a plan to transform its army into a Border Guard Force, Kaowao has learned.  The NMSP’s armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), was ordered to form a Regional Militia Force (or) Hta-Nay Pyithu-Sit at a meeting held earlier this month between the NMSP and SPDC in the capital of Mon State, Moulmein.

The ethnic armed cease-fire groups including the NMSP were given an April 22nd deadline on whether to form a BGF according to the junta’s demands. The Burmese junta wants the ethnic armed groups to be administered by the Burmese Army Tatmadaw forces along the border areas.

The NMSP responded to Major General Ye Myint, the military junta’s chief negotiator from Military Affairs Security, who had warned the Mon last week that failing to agree to the plan will be an act of war against the Burmese government.

The NMSP’s Vice President Nai Rotsa said the final decision was made during the Central Committee meeting this week with a reply being sent to the SPDC.

After reaching their final decision not to transform their army, Nai Hongsar, the secretary of the NMSP, commented that, “Our revolution will never weaken.  There is no democracy and ethnic rights in Burma . . . these are the root causes of the conflict in Burma”.

The first meeting between the NMSP, comprised of Vice President Nai Rotsa, Nai Chan Toi, Nai Tala Nyeh, Nai Htawara and Colonel Layeh Gakow, and the junta’s Chief Military Affairs Security Maj-Gen Ye Myint took place at the Southeast Command in Moulmein on April 7th, 2010. Continue reading “NMSP reaches final decision on joining BGF”

4 hurt in Yangon grenade blasts

A SERIES of grenade blasts hit a hydropower project in Myanmar on Tuesday, wounding four workers in the latest unrest in the military-ruled country, officials said.

The attacks occurred at the Thaukyegat hydropower plant under construction in Bago Division, about 220 km north-east of the country’s main city Yangon, a local official told AFP.

The Myanmar company behind the project, Asia World Construction, was also involved in a controversial dam project in Kachin State where there was a series of bombs blasts earlier this month, injuring one engineer.

Three other bombs on April 15 hit a water festival in Yangon, in the city’s worst attack in five years. The death toll from that attack has now risen to 10 people, with at least 170 people wounded.

Myanmar authorities have arrested some suspects in their search for the perpetrators of those blasts, officials said, but they did not give any further detail as the investigation is still underway.

Myanmar has been hit by several bomb blasts in recent years which the junta has blamed on armed exile groups or ethnic rebels. The latest attacks come as the country prepares for elections planned for this year, which critics have dismissed as a sham due to the effective barring of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi because she is a serving prisoner. — AFP

18 Sex Workers Produced Before Maungdaw Court

By Maung Aye, Maungdaw:
18 illegal sex workers were produced by police on Friday before the Maungdaw court in western Burma, charging them with anti-social activities a week after their arrest, reported a police source.

The 18 sex workers were arrested by police last week in several villages in Maungdaw Township, including a model village, where they were servicing Burmese army personnel who are in the area for construction of the border fence.

“They were staying in model villages during the day, and at night they went to army outposts along the border to serve army officials who have come to the area to construct the border fence,” the source said.

Among the 18 are 12 Arakanese women from Minbya, Kyauktaw, and Mrauk U, while the rest are Burman and Muslim women from nearby villages. All the women are 18 to 20 years old.

“Police forces arrested only 18 women but many other sex workers managed to escape during the raid. Police conducted a raid when they got information about anti-social activities being done by some women in Maungdaw Township,” the source added.

The women will face trial in the next week but have not been appointed lawyers to advocate for them in the court, sources say.

A government clerk from Maungdaw said, “Now many young women from several areas in Arakan State are involved in the sex business in our township due to the hardship of the economic crisis in our state. Maungdaw is a border town and the business in the township is a little better than other areas in Arakan. So, young women around Arakan come to our town to serve as sex workers.”

According to a local source, the economic crisis in Arakan has caused severe hardship, and many young women have been forced to work in the sex trade for lack of any other means to survive.

Ceasefire Shan Army to split into two factions?

The ceasefire Shan State Army (SSA) ‘North’ is likely to separate into two factions due to some of its brigades’ response to comply with Naypyidaw’s demand that requires 900-1,000 of their men to form 3 homeguard battalions without agreement by all the fighters, according to reliable sources from the Sino-Burma border.

The response was given on 22 April, the latest deadline for all ethnic groups to give their consent on the border guard force (BGF) proposal.  The group’s top leader Maj-Gen Loimao with other 12 top members accepted the proposal at a meeting with Maj-Gen Aung Than Tut, Commander of the Burma Army’s Northeastern Region Command at Lashio headquarters.

The military junta was reported to have planned to hold a ceremony to honor it officially at the SSA’s Hsengkeow HQ, Hsipaw township, Shan State North, on the following day. But the plan failed as the group’s other faction did not allow the Burmese delegation to enter in areas, said a source close to the group’s leadership.

The group has reportedly yet to sign the agreement officially, he said. “It was just an oral acceptance. It appear the group is going to break up into two camps.”

The SSA-N has 3 brigades (1, 3, 7), one border force and one HQ Security Force led by Maj-Gen Loimao. He is able to give orders only to brigades 3 and 7. Its paramount leader Maj Gen Hso Ten is serving a 106 year jail sentence in Khamti.

The 1st Brigade is based in Wanhai, Kehsi township, Shan State South, under the command of Maj-Gen Parngfa; Brigade No.3 in Mongkhurh, Mongyai township, Shan State North, under the command of Maj-Gen  Loimao; Brigade No.7 in Kali, Hsipaw township, Shan State North, led by Maj-Gen Gaifa.

The First Brigade is the strongest with approximately 2,500 fully armed strength and its commander Maj-Gen Parngfa is reported as a hardliner.

The faction that has refused to transform is the 1st Brigade. It is said to join hands with other ethnic ceasefire armies that still remain defiant to the BGF program:  the United Wa State Army (UWSA), National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a source said.

Maj-Gen Aung Than Tut was reported to have said that the remaining groups have also accepted the proposal on the same day with the SSA.

“No need to worry for the remaining brigade of your group, the 1st brigade. It will be following your footstep soon,” Aung Than Tut was said to have told Maj-Gen Loimao.

But the Wa, Mongla and Kachin replied that they were not aware of the commander saying so and they have yet to give their consent.

In the meantime, unconfirmed sources said that the 7th brigade’s leader Maj-Gen Gaifa is reported to be preparing to contest the general elections with the group’s former political arm, Shan State Progress Party (SSPP).

An official report from the SSA-North says the Brigade was marking the founding of the first SSA on 24 April 1964.

NDF vows to continue armed struggle

In a major development that may lead to fresh armed conflict between the armed ceasefire groups and the Burmese Army, the National Democratic Front – Burma (NDF) has declared that it will join hands with its allies to attack the junta on multiple front lines.

“The flames of civil war will be fuelled. We are discussing amongst ourselves to open many front lines around the country if the junta opens even one,” Mai Phone Kyaw, General Secretary of NDF, warned.

The NDF’s Central Committee meeting was held on April 23 and 24 and 18 representatives from seven groups of eight attended and resolved to continue armed struggle.

A NDF statement said it supports the rejection by ceasefire groups of the junta’s proposal to transform their armed wings to the Border Guard Force (BGF).

Mai Phone Kyaw said NDF has established a rapport and a mutual understanding with other ceasefire groups and has already conveyed its intention to them.

He added that the NDF has suggested to the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which was accused of producing opium, to fight for its national rights. He also pointed out that there is enough evidence of top junta leaders’ involvement in opium production operations.

The statement said NDF opposes the 2008 constitution and the junta’s one-sided election, which will only legitimize the military dictatorship and increase its stranglehold on the country. It welcomed the NLD’s decision not to re-register the party with the country’s Election Commission.

The NDF was formed with 13 ethnic armed groups on May 10, 1976, to fight for ethnic rights and self-determination.

Later, some of the groups arrived at a ceasefire agreement with the junta, leaving eight groups, the Karen National Union (KNU), Chin National Front (CNF), New Mon State Party (NMSP), PaO National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Wa National Organization (WNO), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) in the National Democratic Front fold.