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People Begin to Flee Homes Under Threat of Civil War

By Burma Partnership  •  May 3, 2010

The situation in north-eastern Burma is becoming increasingly tense and unstable as yet another set of deadlines pass, by which ethnic ceasefire groups were supposed to join the junta’s Border Guard Force (BGF) under the command of the SPDC Army. On 25 April, the National Democratic Front, made up of 8 ethnic armed groups, released a statement rejecting the BGF proposal and demanding that the junta end its military operations and intimidations in ethnic areas. The Kachin Independence Organization/Army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA, aka Mongla) also remain resolute in their opposition to the junta’s proposal and stand by their counter proposals, which have been dismissed by the regime. General Htay Maung of the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) Peace Council, a faction that split from the KNU in February 2007 to attempt to achieve peace by working with the SPDC, issued a scathing letter that rejected the BGF proposal. The Shan State Army-North may be facing divisions between different factions over the decision.

With the looming threat of civil war, hundreds of people from southern Shan State (under the UWSA) and hundreds more of Mon (from New Mon State Party territory) have already fled towards the Thai border. The Karen Information Center says 300 Karen have also fled their homes on 27 and 28 April.

In another sign of mounting tension, China has deployed as many as five brigades of the People’s Liberation Army, or 5,000 troops, along the country’s southwest border with Burma.

The junta’s efforts to bring ceasefire groups under their control are creating an atmosphere that is both divisive and confrontational. These are not conditions for inclusive and truly democratic elections. Ceasefire groups who continue to oppose the BGF proposal will not be able to form political parties and run in the elections, if they so desire. Furthermore, under the junta’s election laws, polling may not even be conducted in ceasefire areas, if there are adequate concerns over security.

If the junta is serious about conducting free, fair and inclusive elections, they must immediately cease hostilities against ceasefire and other ethnic groups, as one of the minimum conditions.

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