The New Mon State Party (NMSP) has gained public support both inside and outside of Mon State after it rejected the SPDC’S plan to transform its army into a Border Guard Force last month.
“I am impressed with the Mon leaders who have responded bravely for our Mon people,” said a Buddhist monk who lives in Rangoon. “Before I thought some with business interests in the cities would resign. It is inspiring that they left their families and homes to resume the struggle,” he added.
The NMSP has been on alert since the April 28th deadline when senior leaders at headquarters rejected the junta’s demands to transform into a Border Guard Force. The NMSP subsequently moved their base and closed all liaison offices inside Burma except one in Moulmein in preparation for war.
“We do not want to fight the Burmese Army and divide the Mon but if war breaks out we will definitely give our support to the NMSP,” said Nai Ba Khin, a community leader in Northern Ye.
A teleconference was held by the Mon community in Denmark on May 1, 2010 to show their support for the NMSP. The NMSP’s CEC member, Nai Aung Min described the current political tension between the NMSP and SPDC during the online meeting.
“The overseas Mon community members in Europe, Australia and North America are eager to donate additional funds for the Mon refugees who are now fleeing to the border due to the renewed tension,” said Pon Nya Mon, Coordinator of OMCC (Overseas Mon Coordinating Committee).
The NMSP’s armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), was ordered to form a Regional Militia Force under SPDC command in April. The NMSP responded to the Burmese Major General, Ye Myint of Military Affairs Security that the NMSP could not accept their proposal under the present ceasefire agreement. The junta had set an April 28th deadline for all the cease-fire groups to accept the BGF plan or be declared illegal organizations. The NMSP has since been preparing for possible armed clashes with the Burmese military.
“We have no choice but to respond with a strong message. I have chosen this option (armed struggle) for nearly forty years and cannot change our commitment so easily,” said NMSP’s Vice President, Nai Rotsa, who joined the NMSP in the early 1970’s from Rangoon University.
About 700 MNLA guerrillas are taking position inside possible defense areas in Moulmein, Tavoy, and Thaton District. Meanwhile, about 500 civilians in the rural areas have fled to the Thai Burma border and refugee camps.
Established by late President Nai Shwe Kyin in 1958, the NMSP is the only major political party with a military wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA). When it reached a cease-fire deal with the ruling junta in 1995 the NMSP lost some public support and political involvement from the Mon community. Even with a small fighting unit of less than one thousand soldiers, the political image of the NMSP has improved since rejecting the SPDC’s demands.