The War Office in Naypyidaw has ordered Burmese government forces based in ethnic areas to relaunch their infamous “Four Cuts” strategy against the ethnic cease-fire groups that continue to resist the junta’s Border Guard Force (BGF) plan.
The Burmese army’s “Four Cuts” policy was developed in the 1970s during the former regime of the Burmese Socialist Programme Party with the intention of undermining ethnic militias by cutting off access to food, funds, information and recruitment, often with devastating consequences.
Four Cuts Program
Most of Burma’s refugees come from the ethnic minority groups located near Burma’s borders which have been engaged in the struggle for equality and autonomy rights with the central Burmese authorities since the country’s independence. In the 1960s, Burma’s dictator, General Ne Win, launched a new counter-insurgency strategy called the Four Cuts, designed to cut the four main links (food, funds, intelligence, and recruits) between insurgents, their families and local villagers. This campaign has increased in severity over time and today most of the formerly automous ethnic regions are controlled by the military regime.
According to military sources, the War Office recently ordered regional commanders to reimpose the strategy in areas including Kachin State, Shan State, Karenni State , Karen State , Mon State and Tenasserim Division.
Military sources said the renewed campaign would include an additional “cut”—a policy of severing communication routes between allied ethnic groups.
Commenting on the information about the new “Four Cuts” campaign, Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese military observer at the Sino-Burmese border who has close contacts to several ethnic armed groups, said the junta’s plan could be irrelevant because many ethnic armies are based in border areas.
“The Four Cuts strategy was designed for inland counterinsurgency operations,” he said. “In particular, there were government offensives against the Communist Party of Burma and the Karen National Union in the Pegu Mountains. But now the groups that are being targeted are based at the Sino-Burmese border and the Thai-Burmese border.”
Some observers expressed concern about an escalation of human rights violations such as forced relocations, the burning of villages and summary executions in ethnic areas, atrocities that invariably accompany such a strategy, they said.
“The Four Cuts strategy has been modified by the current military junta,” said Htet Min, a former army officer who is now living in exile. “When I was in the military, it was also called ‘sweeping’ an area, meaning removing any suspected villagers and burning their villages.” Continue reading “War Office in Naypyidaw Orders New “Four Cuts” Campaign”
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