HURFOM: The situation in the southern part of Mon State has become increasingly unstable as senior SPDC military leadership has applied pressure to the New Mon State Party (NMSP) to reduce its armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA), into becoming a subservient border guard force or militia force. Tension increased within the NMSP after an April 22nd meeting in which a top SPDC commander invoked, for the 1st time since its formation, terms suggesting the “return to a pre-ceasefire relationship”.
When the military government pressured the NMSP to agree to a ceasefire in 1995, it was at a time when the Burmese Army was working to ensure security for company staff belonging to multi-national oil corporations, Unocal and Total, in order to construct the 60 miles long Yadana/Yetagun gas pipeline. Today the military government has a serious concern that if the ceasefire breaks, Mon and Karen insurgent forces can move up to the pipeline region.
In May and June of this year, the Burmese Army sent 7 companies of troops, or about 300 to 400 soldiers into the northern part of the Yadana/Yetagun pipeline, specifically along the Ye to Tavoy motor road and along the coastal regions in southern Ye and northern Yebyu Township.
The military government is concerned for the gas pipeline, that if the MNLA troops break the ceasefire and co-operate with the Karen insurgents, they will threaten the security of the lucrative pipeline.
After the boosted security in the area of northern Yebyu Township of Tenasserim Division and southern Ye Township in Mon State, the Burmese Army has employed a multiple cut strategy to sever all types of supports by the local villagers to insurgent armed troops. This June, the Burmese Army has ordered the fencing of villages in Yebyu Township to prevent insurgent armed groups form accessing the villages. As a result villagers have lost their crops and property. They have no chance to prepare their plantations and orchards at the beginning of rainy season, when farmers traditionally prepare for a new season of growing. At the same time, villagers have to provide all types of assistance to Burmese Army soldiers who are based in their villages.
Finally, in order to ensure the protection of the whole gas pipeline project, and to control the whole area, there have been significantly more Burmese army soldiers active in Mon territory, increasing the suffering of the people – people who have not broken the 1995 ceasefire.