Over 30 retired Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) soldiers have arrived at New Mon State Party (NMSP) headquarter since April 22nd, a NMSP official informed IMNA today.
The NMSP formally refused to convert its armed wing , the MNLA, into a Burmese government-run militia group on April 22nd, the deadline the government had set for the party to make its final decision regarding the issue. Sources informed IMNA that the party’s decision has earned it widespread support from the Mon State community, including prominent senior monks and retired party members.
“Many retirement soldiers have arrived both at party headquarters [in southern Ye Township] and in [NMSP-controlled] districts [Thaton, Moulmein and Tavoy] but I cannot estimate the number,” IMNA’s source from the NMSP stated.
“At least 30 retired soldiers and some new soldiers arrived at NMSP headquarters from April 28th to the first week of May,” reported a senior NMSP soldier who had recently journeyed from NMSP headquarters to the Thailand-Burma border.
Other retired MNLA soldiers and commanders have delayed their return to the party, but will leave retirement if the Burmese government officially breaks its ceasefire with the NMSP, he explained.
Currently, the MNLA is dealing with providing its returning members and currently-enlisted soldiers with sufficient weaponry, he added.
The MNLA, the armed wing of the NMSP, was formed in 1971. IMNA’s coverage of the force in September 2009 cited the party’s website as claiming that at the time of the 1995 ceasefire agreement, the MNLA was comprised of 7860 soldiers. Many of its soldiers retired from the army after the party made its 1995 ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military, and in fall 2009 the party’s website claimed that troop numbers had fallen to 350 soldiers; this statistic has evidently changed.
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|Friday, 07 May 2010 17:33|
|At 00:15 on Friday 7th May, 79 Burmese were arrested at Chumphon check-point. The Burmese were travelling on a double decker bus from Maha Chai to Songkhla, a Malaysian border town, according to Thailand’s Thai Rat newspaper.
The local authorities received information that a double decker bus No-3250 would carry 100 Burmese migrant workers from Maha Chai so a Chumphon police officer, Chala Phonena, stopped and checked the bus at region-9 police station, Wonphai village, Chumphon. 1 Cambodian, 59 males and 20 females Burmese migrant workers were arrested.
Two drivers and a bus conductor would be charged with Human-trafficking and the arrested migrants on the bus would be charged with illegally entering the country” said the police officer.
According to interrogation, many gave their statement that they go for working at Songkla and the rest would enter to Malaysia.
According to the drivers statement each migrant paid 1,500 Baht each to be taken on this trip across the border.
According to Thai media, within a few days, more than one hundred illegal migrants were arrested entering Thailand at the Three Pagodas border pass as well as on boats caught entering Thailand along the Ranong Province border with Burma.
Due to economic instability and severe difficulties maintaining livelihoods, Burmese migrants try to enter Thailand whichever way they can in order to find work.
The newly formed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) led by Prime Minister Thein Sein is conducting a recruiting campaign in Shan State North and Shan State East using power of its parent organization known as the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), sources from the border said.
All village and village tract headmen in Shan State North’s Namkham Township and Kengtung, Shan State East are pressured by local ruling military junta officials and USDA officials to collect household lists starting early this month.
Namkham alone has to provide at least 5,000 members for the party, said a Namkham USDA member.
Namkham Township is a homeland for ethnic nationalities such as Lisu, Shan, Palaung and Kachin as well as people of different religions especially Christians and Buddhists.
The township chairman therefore ordered on 19 May that each quarter must send 50 members for the party, he said. “They started collecting names yesterday.”
Likewise, in Shan State East’s Kengtung Township, every youth age above 15 years old must apply for membership. If not they all would be put in a blacklists for high treason [Naing Ngan Taw Pone Kan Thu], said a member of USDA in Kengtung.
Local USDA officials are now conducting census and collecting family lists in areas all around the town including outskirts, he said.
Chairman of Kengtung USDA is Sai Long Hseng Leng. He is also a general secretary of Kengtung Tai Khun literature association.
“The USDA say we should become PM Thein Sein’s party members because he had developed our town and built pagodas for us,” a female resident said. “But we don’t see any development in our town.”
Prime Thein Sein with 20 other senior officials retired from their military positions in late April and came to lead the UNDP. The UNDP was directly formed from the state backed organization, the USDA. It applied for party registration to the Union Election Commission on 29 April.
It is expected to contest all constituencies in Burma in the coming election later this year.
On 27 May , the 20th anniversary of Burma’s 1990 elections, we ask for solidarity groups across the world to mobilize in a unified action and call upon their governments to stand with the people of Burma, denounce the military’s sham elections, and call for real democratic change.
Background: Twenty years ago, on 27 May 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other democratic parties won a landslide victory in Burma’s elections. Although the military junta had initially promised a transfer of power, it refused to recognize the results of the elections. The junta jailed many opposition politicians or forced them into exile. This repressive dictatorship has continued to this day.
The regime has once again promised to hold democratic elections, but preparations and recently released election laws indicate that these elections are a thinly veiled attempt to legitimize continued military rule. With the ongoing imprisonment of almost 2,200 political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, attacks against ethnic communities, attempts to force ethnic armies to join the new “Border Guard Force,” ratification of the flawed 2008 Constitution through coercion, and electioneering efforts by former military commanders masquerading as civilian politicians, the military junta has made it clear that it intends to win the 2010 elections by any means available.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD, and many other opposition parties have all taken a strong stance against the elections; in a firm rejection of the flawed election laws and the 2008 Constitution, the NLD has decided not to contest in the elections. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD have taken their case to the Supreme Court, arguing against the unfair election laws that dictate the dissolution of the NLD and other unregistered parties. Ethnic leaders have similarly resisted the Junta’s intervention, with the majority of ethnic ceasefire groups currently rejecting the military’s Border Guard Force proposals.
Aim: Unified worldwide actions in support of the people of Burma that call on governments to denounce the elections and to refuse to recognize the results unless key benchmarks  for national reconciliation are met. The suggested action commemorates the 1990 elections, demonstrates support for the NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma, and calls for truly democratic people’s elections.
Groups make (1) a large replica ballot box decorated with images of people of Burma, (2) postcards with an image of a voting ballot on the front with the options of “Real Election” or “Military Selection.” The back of the postcards reiterates the calls from Burma’s democracy movement to international governments. Burma Partnership will provide the graphic and text.
Volunteers will hand out postcards to passersby, asking them to sign the postcards and drop the postcard into the ballot box, thus casting their vote for a “Real Election.”
Groups will deliver or mail postcards to their respective governments.
Groups can then send a description, photos and video of the event to Burma Partnership (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as local and international media.
A Thai soldier was shot dead by Burmese government soldiers in Mae Sam Leap village north of Mae Sariang in Mae Hong Son Province on Wednesday, according to sources on the Thai-Burma border.
The Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) in Mae Sariang said that they learned through Thai police sources that one Thai solider died as a result of a gun shot injury on the Burmese side of the border.
Police sources reportedly told the KRC that Burmese government soldiers wanted a Thai ranger to take two landmine victims across the border to the Thai side, but the ranger refused.
“A fight broke out after the Thai soldier refused to take the landmine victims to the hospital, and the Thai soldier was killed,” said a KRC worker, who asked to remain anonymous.
According to a second NGO worker based in Mae Sariang, the local Thai Ranger commander said the Thai soldier was out of uniform and was taking Chiang Mai university students down the Yuan River.
When the Thais stopped at a Burmese checkpoint, the Thai ranger was told to take the two land mine victims to the Thai hospital.
According to the Thai commander, the ranger told the Burmese that he would come back after he had dropped the students off. As he was walking back to the boat, he was shot in the back several times.
The Thai commander said that a meeting will be held between Thai and Burmese authorities, and that he suspected the Burmese were intoxicated or taking drugs at the time.
Karen villagers have reported that river traffic has been restricted and tighter security measures have been put in place following recent armed clashes on the Burmese side.