PEACE IN NAME ONLY By David Scott Mathieson
War and refugees will remain a fact of life in Burma as long as the root causes of conflict in the country’s borderlands remain unaddressed.
The rout of the ethnic Kokang militia, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, in northern Burma in late August has brought into stark relief what millions of people live with in Burma every day: conflict between the central state and non-state armed militias. For decades, clashes between the Burmese regime’s army and its myriad enemies have been forcing people into hiding or across borders. What is different about the recent fighting is that it involved China—not usually a country that tolerates refugees from Burma or instability along its borders.
The cause of the latest outbreak of hostilities is the decision of Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to pressure cease-fire groups to transform their armies into border security guard forces before next year’s election. Under the SPDC plan, which was first proposed in April, the militias would be split up into battalions consisting of 326 soldiers, mostly from ethnic militias, but with a number of Burmese government army troops and officers. The deadline for a response to the plan was June, with training to begin in October.
For full story please go to The Irrawaddy Peace in Burma
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