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.
“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.The Peace Council has accused the junta of oppression of their people, which is contrary to the propaganda in the state run media, which talks of development, peace and stability in the country ushered in by the regime.
Saw David Takapaw, Vice-President of the KNU said the rejection of the BGF is related to the distrust the ethnic armed groups have for the junta.
“They (junta) are the kind you cannot trust no matter what they say,” he told KNG. “The ethnic armed groups want to maintain peace and keep their arms.”
The BGF issue has worsened the situation for armed groups and there are no opportunities and rights of the ethnic people in such policies of the junta, he said.
“Everything will go under the control of the junta if the armed groups transform to BGF and they have to serve under the command of the Burmese Army. So it is not possible for them to accept,” said the Vice President of KNU, whose armed wing the KNLA, has been fighting Burmese troops since 1949.