New armed eth­nic or­gan­i­sa­tions could fur­ther desta­bi­lize peace process

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Yet an­other dis­con­cert­ing de­vel­op­ment as oc­curred in re­la­tion to Myan­mar’s eth­nic land­scape with the an­nounce­ment of an­other armed eth­nic group. The an­nounce­ment that the Shanni Na­tion­al­i­ties Army (SNA) has been cre­ated was re­cently posted on Face­book.

De­scribed as an in­de­pen­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion “not un­der any other group,” the SNA claims to rep­re­sent the Shan peo­ples of north­ern Myan­mar. With a pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mated at 300,000, the Red Shan—trans­lated to Shan-ni in Myan­mar and Tai-leng in Shan—largely live in south­ern Kachin State, par­tic­u­larly near Mohnyin and Bhamo, and in Sa­gaing Divi­sion, the re­port said.

One of the SNA’s prom­ises is to “pro­tect lo­cal peo­ple bul­lied by other armed groups.” Since the 1960s, the Shan Ni, or Red Shan, com­mu­ni­ties have been si­t­u­ated be­tween the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army/ Or­ga­ni­za­tion (KIA/O) and the Myan­mar Army. They re­port hav­ing suf­fered abuses from both sides in the con­flict, which has re­port­edly con­trib­uted to the or­ga­ni­za­tion of in­for­mal Shan-ni mili­tias over the years.

The SNA has re­ported one clash with the govern­ment this month. An out­break of fight­ing was re­ported on Jan­uary 11 on the Myan­mar-In­dia bor­der. Three SNA sol­diers were al­legedly ar­rested by the Myan­mar Army and one SNA sergeant was killed.

This month an­other group was formed that could fur­ther desta­bilise the on­go­ing peace process. Mizzima re­ported the for­ma­tion of the Kachin Re­pub­lic Party (KRP) and its mil­i­tary wing the Kachin Re­pub­lic Army (KRA). Ac­cord­ing to Act­ing Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Lashi Yawna, ‘. . . we will form the KRP with the ob­jec­tive of es­tab­lish­ing an in­de­pen­dent re­pub­lic se­ceded from the cur­rent union.’ He also added that KRP of­fices are to be opened in China and Thai­land.

As the Union Peace Con­fer­ence and di­a­logue con­tin­ues it is likely that more of­ten un­rep­re­sented eth­nic group will seek greater recog­ni­tion. Sadly, it may in­volve re­sort­ing once more to arms.

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