Monday, 18 November 2019

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Five ethnic militias join forces amid junta threat

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Five ethnic armed groups have agreed to joint military operations in simultaneous counter-attacks should the junta attack one of the groups, amid continuing pressure on ceasefire groups to bring their armies under the junta’s Border Guard Force banner, a leader said.

The deal was reached at a clandestine meeting near the Thai-Burmese border between May 21 and 24 among leaders from five ethnic armed groups: the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Karen National Union (KNU) and Karenni Nationality Progressive Party (KNPP).

“The main point in our agreement is to join hands in facing a crisis if the junta opts to use political and military means in attacking these ethnic armed groups”, an NMSP leader who attended this meeting told Mizzima.

Invitations were sent to the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Shan State Army (North) (SSA-N) but they were unable to attend, a source close to the meeting said.

The junta is putting pressure on ethnic ceasefire groups fighting for the right of self-determination to accept its BGF offer, but the UWSA, KIO, NMSP, SSA-N, a small Karen group – the KNU/KNLA Peace Council, led by Major General Htein Maung – and the Mongla group, NDAA, have rejected it.

“Other points in this agreement centre around providing assistance if one of us is attacked and to launch simultaneous military fronts in joint military operations … We have no other options”, a CNF central committee member said.

The leaders of these five ethnic armed groups first met secretly in January, when they agreed to face the junta by joining hands rather than forming a formal alliance.

They agreed to hold a similar meeting soon attended by more ethnic militias to form a united force, in an agreement between ceasefire and non-ceasefire groups such as the KNU, KNPP and CNF.

A similar agreement was once reached among the UWSA, KIO, Kokang Army or MNDAA, and the Mongla group – NDAA. But the junta attacked the MNDAA led by Peng Kya Shin at the end of last August on the pretext of fighting drug-trafficking. At the time, other alliance groups were unable to assist the MNDAA.

Another such alliance of ethnic armed groups is the National Democratic Front (NDF), formed on May 10, 1976, with the objectives of equality and self-determination rights. But some of the NDF members reached ceasefire agreements with the junta, leaving eight in the alliance: the KNU, the CNF, the NMSP, the Pa-O National Liberation Organisation, the Palaung State Liberation Front, the Wa Nationality Organisation, the Lahu Democratic Union and the Arakan Liberation Party.


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