Thursday, 21 November 2019

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New Mon State Party prepares for war

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The New Mon State Party is making preparations in case war breaks out between it and the Burmese Army, after its militia under ceasefire rejected the junta’s order for it to be brought under the command of the Border Guard Force, a spokesman said.

The junta had given the party until April 22 to respond to its offer of a place for the party’s militia in the new guard force. The party rejected the offer and since has secured all documents from its communication offices and ceased their operations except for those in Moulmein, in preparation for a crackdown, party spokesman Naing Chay Mon said. 

“We answered the junta at the deadline on April 22 that we could not accept their proposal. So, we have closed the offices so that if the junta takes action against our organisation, most of our members will not be left in the area,” he said.

He said Rangoon, Ye Township, Myawaddy Township, Three Pagodas Pass and Than Phyu Za Yap offices have been closed, and only two staff members are left in charge at Moulmein, capital of Mon State.

The party agreed to a ceasefire with the junta in 1995, after which the offices were opened for bilateral communications with the government. Its rights to do business were revoked, so the party had no concerns about economic loss from the closures, former party member Naing Tin Aung said.

“We had invested heavily in timber businesses. Later [some years after the ceasefire], the government revoked our permits to conduct those businesses. So, we have nothing to lose from the closures,” he said.

After initial years of ceasefire, the party also ran bus lines and import-export businesses but those permits were also revoked later by the regime.

Tension was building between the junta and the New Mon State Party and both sides were preparing for possible armed clashes, political analyst Aung Thu Nyein in Thailand said.

The junta has three military units and one military operations command centre at Ye. 

It also has three units at Three Pagodas Pass, the South Eastern Command is at Moulmein, and many military units are positioned between Moulmein and Mu Done Township.

About 700 soldiers from the party control all or parts of the following areas: Moulmein District, Tavoy District, Tha Htone District, Bahoquin at the top of Ye stream and Three Pagodas Pass.  

Sources said that more than 400 villagers from Toehaparouk, Ani, Chelltike, Waisin and Naungbwae in Ye Township had fled to the Hlokhani Mon refugee camp on  the Thai-Burmese border on April 25 because the worry about war.

Mon separatists formed the Mon Peoples Front, which was later superseded by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in 1962. Since 1949, the eastern hills of the state (as well as portions of Thaninthaya Division) have been under control of the NMSP.

The NMSP was formed in 1958 and they continued the for self-determination and the rights of other ethnic minorities.

Many Mon were against the 1995 ceasefire agreement, but the NMSP convinced them to try a political compromise with the regime. In 2003, the party joined the national constitutional convention, where it proposed that the junta create a federal union of Burma. The junta turned down the proposal, and in 2007 the party sent only observers to the convention. NMSP leaders say the 2008 constitution is undemocratic, allowing for no ethnic rights.


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