covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Burma

Border Guard Force Plan to Be Sidelined


By WAI MOE Monday, May 24, 2010


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The Burmese military junta will not impose its border guard force (BGF) plan on ethnic cease-fire groups until after the general election, sources close to the War Office in Naypyidaw have told The Irrawaddy.

The move comes as Burma's top military generals gather for their four-monthly meeting in the Burmese capital this week when they are expected to discuss pre- and post-election strategies and decide who will run for parliament and who will assume higher ranks in the military hierarchy.

The sources said that Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the junta supremo who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, will request an update on the ethnic situation from his commanders, including Lt-Gen Ye Myint, the junta's key negotiator and chief of Military Affairs Security, formerly known as military intelligence. However, barring any surprises, Than Shwe will instruct his men to sideline the issue until after the election.

Ahead of the junta’s meeting, Burma's commanders made several unsuccessful attempts at convincing and intimidating the ethnic crease-fire groups to join the BGF under the joint command of the Burmese army.

The talks involved several groups, including the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). 

Burma's generals have set several deadlines for the ethnic groups to accede to their proposal, the latest being the end of March. In almost every case, the cease-fire groups either rejected the BGF plan outright and called for certain conditions to be met.

Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut, the commander of the Northeast Regional Military Command, on Thursday sent a letter on behalf of Ye Myint to the UWSA's Bao Youxiang, urging the Wa leader to agree to a meeting to discuss the BGF plan at his headquarters in Lashio in northern Shan State, according to sources close to the Wa.

The UWSA did not respond to the letter immediately. However, a Wa leader, Bao You-yi, said the 20,000-strong ethnic army is confident it can defend its territory and guarantee the safety of local Wa communities in the event of a conflict.

Maj-Gen Soe Win, the commander of the Northern Regional Military Command, also called last week on the KIO to hold BGF talks in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.

Burmese observers of ethnic issues, however, said the fresh attempts at talks with the Wa and Kachin were superficial attempts by the commanders to gather information ahead of the four-monthly meeting.

“We have already told the junta that we will conduct a transformation of troops into our own  Kachin Regional Guard Force,” said a KIO source in the headquarters of Laiza. “This is our stance.”

The source also said the KIO will abide by its previous proposal to maintain the same number of troops.

The KIO’s proposal to the junta made specific reference to the Panglong Agreement, the charter which created the Union of Burma with multi-ethnic nationalities in 1947, and which guaranteed the ethnic groups autonomy.

Although the junta will sideline the BGF issue for the time being, representatives of the cease-fire groups said they expect the regime to come after them using different tactics. 

The KIO source said the junta’s secret agents have recently arrested at least two KIO members, and have conducted searches of homes of KIO members in Myitkyina.

Ethnic groups and observers have told The Irrawaddy that although the Burmese generals will be displeased that they have to sideline their BGF efforts, they will use the decision as a pretext for courting the Chinese government, which has in recent months been critical of the Burmese regime's persecution of ethnic groups.

Following the Burmese army' capture of the Kokang armed group’s territory, near the Sino-Burmese border, in August 2009, Beijing said it was seriously concerned with the stability along the Sino-Burmese border, and called for a peaceful resolution and national reconciliation in Burma's ethnic affairs.

“Since the Kokang incident, Chinese officials have repeatedly warned their Burmese counterparts not to resolve the issue with force, but peacefully,” said a Chinese scholar in Yunnan Province who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to visit Burma in the near future. He is expected to raise Beijing’s policy on Burma’s ethnic issues during his trip.

COMMENTS (3)
 
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QiuShanHe Wrote:
25/05/2010
It's a bit sad to see slow reaction from Beijing, they were there in Laokai border watching Kokang and Chinese people killed and did nothing. Instead, many Chinese authorities had committed a daylight robbery of those who fled Kokang during that time.

timothy Wrote:
25/05/2010
Premier Wen is coming to Burma to lecture Than Shwe and Co about how to be subordinate to big brother China.
Than Shwe is slave of China but do not discount him either. He will invade the ethnic regions as soon as he gets a mandate from a rubber-stamped parliament elected by a sham procedure during this year. Planes and artillery will come to you my brother. Than Shwe is behaving very well in the pre-election period so as not to spoil his great plan of military domination. Watch this space.

Myatye Moe Wrote:
25/05/2010
It's a good news! It may possibly be due to China's involvement in the ethnic issues, or may be it's just the junta's political game. The ethnic conflict has been the prolonged emotional issue in Burma, and the junta may possibly not try to resolve it by war, cuz these people are its own bretherens.

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