Maj-Gen Than Hlaing, the commander of Eastern Central Command, has accused two ethnic Shan armies – the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) – of undermining local community development, according to an official of the SSPP/SSA.
Speaking to Shan Herald under condition of anonymity, the SSPP/SSA official said that representatives of his group had gone on Monday to a meeting with Maj-Gen Than Hlaing at the Eastern Central Command headquarters in Kholam Township, southern Shan State. He said that the Burmese military commander had bluntly alleged that due to the actions of the SSPP/SSA and RCSS/SSA, the townships of Mong Nong and Kehsi were still underdeveloped.
“The way he [Maj-Gen Than Hlaing] spoke was disrespectful,” the Shan army official said. “He accused us of failing to follow the 2012 ceasefire accord, and he insinuated that we are trying to expand our territory. He also called us ‘narrow-minded’.”
On the contrary, the SSPP/SSA official said, it is in fact the Burmese military which has launched offensives against ethnic people and expanded their positions into areas recognized as zones under the control of ethnic armed groups.
Fighting has broken out regularly in recent times between units of the Burmese armed forces and the SSPP/SSA and RCSS/SSA. This year alone, clashes have occurred between Burmese troops and SSPP/SSA forces in Mong Nong Township, while they have also engaged with the RCSS/SSA in Hsipaw Township.
The RCSS/SSA soldiers march on the Shan National Day
The SSPP/SSA official said that the Shan armies were also accused of not following the Burmese military’s so-called ‘Six-point Principles’* The Burmese commander reportedly emphasized that the 2008 constitution was applicable to all parties, and reasserted that the military will protect it.
The RCSS/SSA was not immediately available for comment. The RCSS/SSA is one of eight ethnic armed groups which signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with President Thein Sein in October 2015.
The SSPP/SSA opted not to ink the NCA in 2015. However, it has signed state-level and union-level ceasefire accords with the government.
*The Burmese military’s Six-point Principles are: to maintain a keen desire to reach eternal peace; to keep promises agreed to in peace deals; to avoid capitalizing on the peace agreement; to avoid placing a heavy burden on local people; to strictly abide by existing laws; and to ‘march towards a democratic country’ in accordance with the 2008 Constitution.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)