Military confrontation between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Burma Army (BA) that began in May has yet to show any signs of let-up and is slowly building up to showdown, according to local and Thai border sources.
“Wa villagers (who had moved down to the Thai Burmese border since 1999) are no longer arrogant toward their Shan and Lahu neighbors as before,” said a respected local. “They are selling their livestock cheap and saying they’ll take refuge on the Thai side of the border once the shooting begins.”
According to sources, the Burma Army has issued a series of demands to the UWSA’s 171st Military Region that is holding several areas along the border in two townships: Mongton in the west and Monghsat in the east, opposite Maehongson, Chiangmai and Chiangrai provinces:
- No expansion of rubber plantations and founding of new towns without permission
- Not to travel through BA controlled areas bearing arms and wearing UWSA uniforms
- To present a list of the UWSA outposts and bases together with the names of the commanders and strengths.
- To pull out from outposts in 4 locations: Kiulom in Mongjawd; and Namzarm, Hsarm Hsoom and an unidentified location in Monghsat by Sunday, 7 July 2013
“The Wa have instead beefed up their positions along the border,” said a Thai border watcher. “Wei Xuegang (commander of the 171st) reportedly ordered his brigade commanders, ‘if they shoot, we shoot.’”
There are 5 UWSA brigades in the 171st Military Region: 778th, 772nd, 775th, 248th and 518th, totaling 7,000 strong together with their own militias, according to a Wa source.
The tension which was no more than an annoyance after the Wa called for a separate state of their own in March and refusal to allow Naypyitaw’s administrative personnel into Wa-controlled territories came to a head after reports of the UWSA launch of a rubber plantation-cum-new town project in Mong Khid, Mongton township in May. This was followed in June by the killing of a Tachilek resident by a Wa gunman believed to be a follower of Xi Guoneng, an official in the Wa’s Hong Pang Company (new renamed Thawda Win).
The victim was said to have opened a case with the police after Hong Pang had forcibly taken land and bulldozed the buildings inside the land.
Xi Guoneng, also written Shi Kuo Neng, is one of the 26 individuals named by the US Treasury Department on 13 November 2008 as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to Kingpin Act.
“The Burma Army is also unhappy about reports that the UWSA is giving material support to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA),” said a Thai security source.
Naypyitaw, according to some reports, had dispatched an envoy to negotiate with the Wa last week, but nothing has been disclosed about the meeting, which took place at Kunma, north of the Wa capital Panghsang. Wa leader Wei Xiegang is said to have established close business and personal relationship with U Aung Thaung, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)’s special adviser.
CREDIT PANGLONG ORG