Chi­nese em­bassy urges ‘re­straint’ on bor­der

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­

In the wake of an of­fen­sive this week by four eth­nic armed groups in the bor­der town­ship of Muse and neigh­bour­ing Kutkai, the Chi­nese em­bassy urged all par­ties in­volved to re­store peace.

THE Chi­nese em­bassy in Yan­gon yes­ter­day urged all par­ties in the con­flict that flared this week in north­ern Shan State “to ex­er­cise re­straint by tak­ing con­crete and ef­fec­tive mea­sures for an im­me­di­ate cease­fire, so as to re­sume peace in the China-Myan­mar bor­der area as soon as pos­si­ble”.

An early-morn­ing of­fen­sive by four eth­nic armed groups in the bor­der town­ship of Muse and neigh­bour­ing Kutkai town­ship killed at least eight peo­ple on Novem­ber 20. The co­or­di­nated as­sault, on what the govern­ment said was 10 police and mil­i­tary out­posts, marked a ma­jor blow to the civil­ian Na­tional League for Democ­racy govern­ment’s peace over­tures to the na­tion’s eth­nic armed groups, more than seven months into its term in of­fice.

The State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice In­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee, orig­i­nally set up to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion about the on­go­ing con­flict in western Rakhine State, has also taken to pro­vid­ing up­dates on the sit­u­a­tion in north­ern Shan State. It said 2600 civil­ians had been dis­placed and were shel­ter­ing at five monas­ter­ies in Muse town­ship, where the govern­ment was pro­vid­ing sup­port.

The Chi­nese em­bassy said oth­ers had fled across the bor­der into Yun­nan prov­ince.

“For hu­man­i­tar­ian con­sid­er­a­tions, the lo­cal Chi­nese govern­ment has taken in those who have crossed the bor­der and sent the in­jured ones to hos­pi­tals for med­i­cal treat­ment,” read a state­ment from the em­bassy yes­ter­day.

Myan­mar’s Min­istry of De­fence said the Novem­ber 20 at­tacks in­cluded heavy weapons fire, with the Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army tem­po­rar­ily block­ing the road link­ing Muse to Lashio about 160 kilo­me­tres (100 miles) to the south.

The at­tacks were car­ried out by an “al­liance of the North­ern Brother­hood” com­prised of the TNLA, the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army, the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army and the Arakan Army.

The four groups re­leased a joint state­ment in the at­tacks’ af­ter­math, say­ing, “De­spite the fact that our al­liance of the North­ern Brother­hoods truly want a gen­uine peace and wish to solve po­lit­i­cal prob­lem [sic] by po­lit­i­cal means, we have in­evitably launched such a joint mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion when con­stantly re­ceiv­ing mil­i­tary pres­sures from the Burma army.”

The sit­u­a­tion in the af­ter­math of the Novem­ber 20 at­tacks re­mains un­sta­ble, with the mo­tor­way to Muse – a ma­jor over­land trade route – im­pass­able and anx­i­eties among civil­ians run­ning high.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day, Muse district ad­min­is­tra­tor U Zaw Min said, “One per­son was in­jured from shoot­ing by an armed group on the am­bu­lance-bus of the Ga Yu Nar Or­gan­i­sa­tion on the Ho Naung high­way at 4pm to­day.”

Lo­cal CSOs re­leased a state­ment say­ing ef­forts were be­ing made to pro­vide for the newly dis­placed pop­u­la­tions but that there re­mained sig­nif­i­cant un­met needs.

The In­for­ma­tion Bureau of China’s De­fence Min­istry an­nounced on Novem­ber 20 that its mil­i­tary had been put on high alert and was “tak­ing nec­es­sary mea­sures to res­o­lutely safe­guard na­tional sovereignty, se­cu­rity and pro­tect safety of lives and prop­er­ties of the Chi­nese peo­ple in­hab­it­ing in the bor­der area”.

The Shan State Peace Task Force, a Shan civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tion, has urged the govern­ment, the Tat­madaw and the eth­nic armed groups’ lead­ers to con­vene a po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue in­clu­sive of all par­ties to the con­flict. The group also de­manded an end to con­flict in Shan and Kachin states.

None of the groups in­volved in the at­tack has a bi­lat­eral cease­fire agree­ment with the govern­ment, nor were any of the four sig­na­to­ries to last year’s na­tion­wide cease­fire agree­ment.

The TNLA, the MNDAA and the Arakan Army were un­able to at­tend the 21st-cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence con­vened in late Au­gust be­cause the Tat­madaw de­manded that they first lay down their weapons, a pre­con­di­tion at which the three groups balked.

The KIA took part in the con­fer­ence, even as its troops were en­gaged in hos­til­i­ties in Kachin State. A spokesper­son for the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the KIA’s po­lit­i­cal wing, said the Tat­madaw had ex­panded its of­fen­sive in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

Ear­lier this month, fight­ing be­tween the Tat­madaw and the TNLA in Shan State killed five govern­ment troops and in­jured four civil­ians.

A tally from the Myan­mar Peace Mon­i­tor put the num­ber of clashes in Oc­to­ber be­tween the Tat­madaw and eth­nic armed groups at more than 20, with 7000 peo­ple dis­placed as a re­sult.

Photo: EPA

Sol­diers from the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA) par­tic­i­pate in a train­ing ses­sion at a mil­i­tary camp near Laiza, Kachin State on Novem­ber 19.

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