Thu 31 Mar 2011
Filed under: Inside Burma
Flushed with victory over the Kokang ceasefire group, led by Peng Jiasheng, after a 3 day fighting 19 months ago, the Burma Army had descended on another former ceasefire group the Shan State Army (SSA) North (until a year ago the First Brigade of the SSA North) on 13 March with 19 battalions equipped with heavy weapons.
For the first few days, the offensive appeared to be going well as planned. SSA troops, unable to challenge the Tatmadaw’s greater firepower, were forced to move out from heavily-populated villages. The attacking forces then reportedly issued a two point ultimatum: regrouping of SSA units at its main base in Kehsi township, Wanhai, by 22 March: and surrender by 1 April.
The tide then began to change. The SSA, to lesson the deadly effects of the Burma Army’s firing power, retreated to the deep jungles. The Army, unable to put to use its motor-vehicles, started to bring in more than 150 mules and horses to carry its heavy weapons and officers.
Then the columns were attacked by SSA patrols, whose proximity and swift assaults had rendered their heavy weapons almost useless.
According to the latest report on 28 March, the SSA managed to get away after killing and wounding more than 50 junta soldiers.
Had the SSA expected a softening in Naypyitaw’s stance, it was definitely wrong.
On 23 March, the Lashio-based Northeastern Region Command’s Staff Officer Grade 1 (G-1) Col Tun Tun Nyi was handed a letter from the SSA’s principal ally the United Wa State Army (UWSA) demanding “political means to resolve political issues.” To which G1 was reported to have replied, “The Wa have only two options: To fight or to surrender.”
Two days later, a proposal was submitted by a Mon MP at the Parliament for peaceful resolution of issues with ethnic armed groups. It was put to the vote and was defeated by 520 votes against 106 votes in favor, according to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).
“The rejection means there will be no chance to discuss the issue of peace with ethnic armed groups,” commented an MP who had voted in favor of the motion.
The vote without doubt, also applied to the Karen front that has been fighting without let-up since 8 November.
The meaning is clear: if some of us are entertaining ideas that with “democracy” in Burma since November, peace, illusive since the British days, will return to Burma, we would do better to forget them.