Decreased fighting, increased tension: RCSS/SSA

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According to the annual report submitted to the 15th annual meeting of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), 12-14 January, at its main base on the Thai-Burmese border, the number of clashes between the Burma Army and the SSA had dropped to a third of last year’s figure.

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The two sides that have signed state and union level ceasefire since 2011 has already fought more than 150 clashes, according to media reports.

The 21 clashes last year, most of which were chance encounters, resulted in 47 dead and 30 wounded on the Burmese side and 5 dead and 3 wounded on the SSA side. (Figures of previous year were not given.)

“But there is increased concern,” a senior officer remarked. “Because the Burma Army is taking advantage of the ceasefire to familiarize its troops with the terrain. Now many patrols are believed to be able to trek through the country side without using local scouts.

“Apart from that they are also building roads and outposts and bringing in more arms and ammunition into areas we are active.”

According to him, the Burma Army has been waging a charm offensive on the local populace as well, such as sending medical teams to the outskirts of towns under its control, and putting village headmen on its payroll. In some places like Mongyawng, north of Tachilek, it is also “coaxing” the local people to stage demonstrations against the SSA.

As a result, some officers thought the SSA’s 2012 decision to suspend its draft system should be reconsidered.

Last year the SSA had only 317 recruits, all volunteers, according to the report.

Resolutions passed by the meeting included:
• To preserve the ceasefire based on the agreements signed in 2011 and 2012
• Ratification of the RCSS constitution (The group had dropped its “Total independence” principle. In its place is “Right of self Determination.”)
• To consult with the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU), formed in 2013 with Shan State’s two main political parties and its sister organization, Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), on preparations for the anticipated political dialogue

The RCSS/SSA is one of the 14 armed organizations that have signed ceasefire with Naypyitaw. It has been calling for the swift emergence of the much-anticipated political dialogue, with or without the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) currently being negotiated between Naypyitaw and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) set up by 16 armed organizations in Laiza on 2 November 2013.

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