Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Shan State armed ethnic alliance meets in Mongla

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – An alliance of armed ethnic groups refusing to bring their troops under junta command met last week in Mongla in Shan State to discuss how to prevent a recurrence of what happened to former member, the Kokang group, in August last year, sources close to the bloc said. 

laokai-police-guard1Sources in rebel groups said high-ranking representatives of armed ethnic groups, the Shan State Army North (SSA-N) Brigade 1; United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), aka the Mongla group; held a closed-door meeting in the NDAA-held area during a Shan New Year ceremony last week. The meeting was aimed at bolstering ties and discussing how to come to each other’s aid if a bloc member was attacked by junta forces.

The groups formally joined a six-party alliance early last month and had been co-operating more closely since the Burmese Army expelled the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (the Kokang group) from its ceasefire zone after it seized the capital of Laogai in August last year. The Kokang group was attacked after its leader Peng Jiasheng refused to join a junta Border Guard Force (BGF).

The Kokang group was a member of an alliance of ethnic ceasefire groups based along the Sino-Burmese border that comprised the UWSA, SSA-N, NDAA and the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO). But the alliance had failed to come to the assistance of the Kokang group, when the Burmese junta launched a three-day attack that forced tens of thousands of Kokang residents to flee into China.

An NDDA member in Mae Sai, Thailand said: “The alliance learned a big lesson from the fall of the Kokang and would not make that mistake again.”

In another development, the SSA-N opened an office in Mongla to more easily co-ordinate operations with other alliance members and to sustain access to the outside world, a local merchant told Mizzima.

A retired NDAA officer in Mae Sai, Thailand said: “The ethnic movement along the Sino-Burmese border relies on a thin line of Chinese support. However, with or without the Chinese support, the ethnic [groups’] stride will continue.”

The collaborations come after tension between the ceasefire groups and the Burmese Army started to increase when the junta began compelling the groups to join its BGFs, which the ceasefire groups led by the UWSA, KIO, NDAA and SSA-N Brigade 1, have rejected.

SSA-N Brigades 3 and 7 transformed into militia forces under junta command in April this year. In September and November, Burmese troops launched small attacks against Brigade 1.

Six armed ethnic groups that formed an alliance early last month against the Burmese Army amid fears of a post-election junta offensive also set the formation of a “federal army” as its main priority, Radio Free Asia and independent sources said.

The primary goal was set after a series of meetings in northern Thailand, at which the bloc also decided to create a working committee to carry out political and military strategies as a joint force.

The alliance comprises ceasefire groups, the KIO, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the SSA-N; and non-ceasefire groups, the Karen National Union (KNU), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and Chin National Front (CNF).


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