Following the latest clashes last week, many Shan State Army (SSA) commanders appear to have given up trying to reason with Naypyitaw to honor the ceasefire agreements signed more than 7 months earlier.
“Before the ceasefire agreement was signed, we only had temporary bases apart from those along the border (with China and Thailand),” said a commander who asked SHAN not to name him. “But after the ceasefire, we had started to establish more permanent bases. The Burma Army does not seem to like it.”The commander was commenting on the attack against the SSA base in Tong Lao, Mongkeung township, on 7 September, that killed more than 10 Burma Army troops and wounded 30 more. The SSA also claimed to have seized 1 machine gun, 1MA automatic rifle and plenty of ammunition.
Fighting also took place in Mong Pu Awn, Mongpiang township, on 5 September, where another SSA base was attacked by the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 360, and near Mai Niu, Mawkmai township, on 8 September.
“The Burma Army has taken advantage of the ceasefire to rebuild and reinforce their bases,” said another. “But it only wants us to move to our border bases.”
“So we seem to have a ceasefire only with Naypyitaw, but not with the Burma Army,” he added. “It is like the Shan saying: ‘When the master eats, he says it’s because he likes it; but when the servant eats, he says the servant is greedy’.”
Accordingly, it has reportedly refused to withdraw from most of the bases inside the territories controlled by other ceasefire groups.
The Burma Army, on the other hand, is encouraging its rural-based People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) to recruit and expand.
Article 340 of the 2008 constitution states: “With the approval of the National Defense and Security Council, the Defense Services has the authority to administer the participation of the entire people in the Security and Defense of the Union. The strategy of the people’s militia shall be carried out under the leadership of the Defense Services.”
“Everything indicates that the fighting will continue,” said Lt-Gen Yawdserk, Chairman of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the SSA’s political arm. “The only bright side is that the door is now open for negotiations.”
Both the SSA South and SSA North have fought over 60 clashes against the Burma Army since ceasefire agreements were signed on 2 December and 28 January respectively. So far, Naypyitaw has concluded truce with 13 armed movements.