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Prepare for battle, with better weapons, junta tells militias

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Burmese Army officers promised better weapons including heavy arms to around 200 junta-led militia leaders in Tangyan Township in Shan State’s north after calling them to a meeting early this week, a militia source said.

Bo-MonPeople’s militias and Border Forces Directorate chief Major General Maung Maung Ohn, told them to increase their combat readiness, the militia source said.

Maung Maung Ohn praised the co-operation and loyalty of the militias and promised to supply more weapons to, he said, maintain stability and peace in the area. Heavy weapons would also be provided he said.

He urged participants to closely monitor troop movements of the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a pair of the armed ethnic groups that have rejected the Burmese generals plan that they transform into Border Guard Forces (BGF) or state militia under junta command.

Around 1,500 militia soldiers have lined up in Tangyan along the frontiers of territories held by SSA-N Brigade 1 and the UWSA.

Among the meeting participants, Bo Moon and Ja Htaw, who were believed to head the two strongest militia, were also present, the source said.

Bo Moon is an adopted son of notorious Golden Triangle drugs kingpin Khun Sa, who surrendered to Burmese authorities in 1996. The son gained the full support of the Burmese Army after he joined Burmese troops in halting the advance of SSA-S troops towards the north of Shan State between 1999 and 2000.

He is allegedly involved in the drug trade, under the protection of a reputed force of 800 armed men. The group is sometimes known as the Wan Pang militia.

Meanwhile, Ja Htaw, of Lahu ethnicity, had about 250 men but only 150 were armed, a Shan State source said.

One military analyst said: “The Burmese regime has been successful in using the ‘divide and rule’ strategy to [thwart] the opposition groups. The break-up of the Karen struggle by using the DKBA against KNU, the collapse of the Mong Tai Army, the Kachin, Mon and Pa-O were obvious examples. The Burmese Army will not hesitate to use other groups to attack its main rivals.”

He was referring to the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and its rivals since 1994, the Karen National Union. He predicted: “Militia groups would be used on front lines in case a bigger confrontation between the opposing groups and the Burmese Army takes place.”

A Lahu man in Chiang Mai said: “The Lahu people were both recruited into the UWSA or the Burmese Army … we don’t want our people to be used as pawns.”

He confirmed that some of the Lahu militia leaders had gained business concessions for co-operating with the Burmese Army but that many Lahu people were still poor.

A trader in Mae Sai gave his thoughts on why local merchants had moved their  allegiance to the junta-led militias.

“Many businessmen have changed their business partners from within ceasefire groups to those of militia groups because they have more power than the ceasefire groups,” the trader said. “Some of the businesses are illegal”.

He added that the Burmese Army had applied increasing pressure in various forms on the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), aka the Mongla group, and the UWSA, to transform into BGFs. Currently, Burmese officials had also stopped goods entering the NDAA-controlled area through the Taping border checkpoint. 

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 )  

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