Shan Armed Groups Urged To Meet

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Rival Shan groups pressed to resolve issues to end fighting in northern Shan Shan.

Sai-Aik-Pao
Photo by- SNDP/ Sai-Aik-Pao

The Committee of Shan State Unity (CSSU) requested for rival Shan armed groups to meet to seek an immediate solution to settle differences in Shan State.

“I don’t want the two Shan forces to fight each other. If clashes occur, there will be causalities on both sides, as well as for civilians,” said U Sai Aik Pao, rotational chairperson for CSSU.

The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) have been fighting in northern Shan state since last November. Consequently, civilians have been killed or injured, and thousands forced to flee from their villages.

Sai Aik Pao said three letters, urging the Shan armed groups to end the fighting, have already been sent.

In the past, the clashes weren’t intense, but now they are, he said, and this is troubling for civilians.

The SSPP hasn’t replied to the letters but the RCSS answered and ready to meet for talks said Sai Aik Pao. RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA should meet to fulfil the wishes of Shan people.

Clashes between RCSS/SSA and SSPP/SSA uprooted over a thousand people in Hsipaw township in December.

“I want the two Shan forces to merge, as well as the two Shan political parties to merge while I’m the chairperson of CSSU. Our party also wants to merge,” Sai Aik Pao told SHAN.

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  1. I fully support Sai Aik Pao, rotational chairperson for CSSU, in his call for SSPP and RCSS to meet and resolve their differences. I have also written to Leaders of SSPP as below:
    17/11/2018
    To all SSA-SSPP Leaders,

    Let me introduce myself. I am Sao Noan Oo, born and brought up in Lawksawk, Southern Shan States. Now I live in the United Kingdom.
    From here I have learned, how citizens of the Shan States have been imprisoned in their own homeland, under fear and terror, threatened, violated, killed, murdered, massacred and raped and worse. As soon as an opportunity permitted I began using my voice to represent our people. I wrote countless letters, to the UN and Foreign Governments, and communities so as to inform what is going on in our hidden country. Physically, I was unable to do much, other than met with the British Foreign Ministers, Japan, Danish etc. I wrote articles presented papers, compiled booklets, and have had two books published so as to educate and pass on my experiences of my life at home and in the UK to our young people. I am glad to tell you that I am still blessed with many relatives and friends in the Shan States, Burma, from whom I get my news and information.
    I think, I now know what is happening in the Shan States more than – some people living over there. I have followed and learned about our politicians and resistant armies, perhaps not in detail, but enough for me to have some idea.

    I know quite a bit about SSA too. In 1964 , Sao Nang Hern Kham founded the the Shan States independent SSIA and tried to unite several Shan States armies into one large army but was able only to unite SSIA with the National United Front (SNUF) lead by Moherng, and together the first SSA came into existance.

    After Sao Hearn Kham left, her son Sao Tzang, Yawnghwe was Commander of SSA from 1969-until 1972. Khun Kya Nu was President and Chief of Staff of the Shan State Army.
    The SSA recruited and trained thousands of local Shan to join their ranks. Although their initial purpose was to fight for the autonomy of the Shan States, their battle had extended to fighting against the Communist party of Burma (CPB) and Koumintang soldiers sponsored by the CIA in Burma, and opium smugglers in Shan State. At this stage SSA had no money to buy weapons so they had to make a choice, whether to depend on the CPB supported by China for arms, or to go it alone. The group lead by University students was not keen to be associated with China. The struggle against the Burmese dictatorial Army became very fierce in the Shan State, the SSA in the North had no choice but to approach CPB for support; the CPB responded with military training and provided them with weapons. The remaining SSA was thus weakened.
    Sao Tzang left the army in 1971 to pursue a career in politics ( He obtained a Ph.D in Political Science.)
    In 1974, Khun Kya Nu as President and Chief of Staff went into the Interior, to prevent the CPB from winning over SSA and from accepting arms from the CPB (Communist Party of Burma). He succeeded only in getting Sai Sam Mong, Chief of Army operations to avoid making any commitment. In 1976, due to various difficulties, lack of finance, and intrigues by the war-lords/merchants’ interests and the Burmese communists, Khun Kya Nu was ousted by Colonel Sai Pan Aung, a senior SSA Officer. Khun Kya Nu left the army and became a self-employed trader in Northern Thailand.
    SSA-N/ SSPP, the Progress Party (SSPP) was formed in 1971 to tackle various problems facing the group. According to Sao Tzang, the political vanguard of Shan Resistance, SSA/SSPP collapsed because of external pressures and internal dissension.
    In 1989 SSA-N, Kokang, Wa , SSA/ SSPP, and Kachin and other from different ethnic states signed the Cease-fire Agreement with the Tatmadaw spearheaded by Khin Nyunt, the SLORC’s chief of Military Intelligence in 1989. The Tatmadaw has always played a game of ‘cease-fire, and and continue to attack the resistance armies. The signed ceasefire agreement was a temporary truce to suspend fighting, and give the Tatmadaw time to recruit and train new intakes. Although the Tatmadaw spend a lot of money on developing its army and buying modern weapons it is fighting several ethnic resistance armies from seven ethnic states all at the same time. therefore it loses a considerable number of soldiers. Now and again has to replace its losses.
    During the cease-fire period the military regime set up a development program in the Border areas by making the rebel cease-fire groups work on the infrastructure, such as roads, schools and hospitals. Some cease-fire groups were allowed to retain their arms and territories. The weaker rebel groups forfeited their territories in exchange for some favour. This was a well planned strategy by the Tatmadaw to weaken the resistance forces. It’s main aim was also to wipe out the new armed group, the SSA-S/RCSS before it got too strong.
    In 2010, the Burma army pressured the SSA/ SSPP to transform into Border-guards and so the SSPP/SSA brigade 3 and 7 became Border guards, under the Burma Military, while Brigade 1, led by Col. Pang Fa who rejected the transformation into BGF was left to defend the Northern Shan State. This was when SSA-N lost many of its bases to the Tatmadaw.
    SSA-N have had a very long struggle, and all along the years they have had periods of high and low, and have been through many trials and ordeal, with continuous attacks by the Burmese Army, losing many of their strategic bases. They have also lost many Brigades. Although Col. Pang Fa (now Lt. Gen) and his SSPP/SSA have kept the bilateral ceasefire agreement, the Burma military still attacked their bases fiercely and tried to drive them out of their Wan Hai bases. Credit to him that he and his groups with courage continue to fight on.
    But in some ways SSA-SSPP seems to have lost their way. In 2010 the SSA-N under Colonel Pang Fa joined the United Nationalities Federation Council, (UNFC), the latest coalition of ethnic armed organizations whose members were split groups in their own homeland. I think this was a great mistake. But a greater mistake was when SSA- N became a member of the Northern Alliance and got entangled with those who use violence against villagers, and attacked and try to drive RCSS out of Northern Shan States. Northern, Southern and Eastern Shan States are the homelands of all Tai/ Shan and other ethnic groups. This accusation of RCSS expanding their bases in the Shan States seemed to have come from General Min Aung Hlaing’s idea, as shown by his recent speech. Did the Northern Alliance copy his idea or did he copy the Northern Alliance’s.? Either way, the Northern Alliance is doing a very good job for the Tatmadaw. This has cast a dark shadow over their homeland and people.
    SSA-N should ask themselves why, after all these years of struggle the army has fractured, dissolved, surrendered, become KKY, and border-guard force under the Tatmadaw?. Is it because in the past as well as at the present the SSA-N cannot unite with their own people and have to depend on other’s for support? There are many questions they should be asking and learn lessons from the mistakes they have made. SSA- North could have been a very strong Army, stronger even than SSA-S, an army the people can be proud of, but despite being called and even pleaded by the Sangkhas, Political parties and the citizens its Leadership preferred to unite with others instead of their own people. It should know who the enemies and who the friends are, not only of themselves but of the homeland and all of its peoples.
    I cannot get over the shock and sadness when I heard the SSA-S and RCSS are fighting against each other, Tai, against Tai. Ia sure all Tai are ashamed. I have hope that this is only a small section of SSA-SSPP that is warring against RCSS. If I am right the Leaders should openly disown this section from being SSA-SSPP and declare that they do not have the same ideology or policy. If not the whole SSA-SSPP reputation will remain damaged forever.
    We human beings are unique that we each have a brain that can think, analyse what is right and what is wrong and implement it with our actions. We must use our brain to think clearly and make decisions. Human beings are not perfect, we are capable of making mistakes or easily influenced by others, some more so than others. Knowing our mistakes, admitting, learning from it and changing it for the better are things we should all do. I f we all can do that, we will have a better world to live in.
    I hope you will make the right decisions with your conscience ahd that all SSA-SSPP Leaders good luck and please take the above paragraph into consideration. SSA- RCSS cannot do it alone and neither can you; you need each other especially when the Marn is trying to not only you but all Tain as well as the homeland.Together you can do great jobs for your Motherland and its people, and also educate the other smaller armies to do the same. Both RCSS and SSPP has a duel responsibility to defend and protect the Motherland and her peoples from the enemies; Working together gives you unity; Unity gives you courage; Courage gives you inspiration, Inspiration gives you a vision: a clear Vision towards Victory.
    May you all be blessed with good health, peace of mind, contentment and happiness. Happiness actually requires very little, enough food to survive and a home for shelter and to bring up your children- you don’t have to be greedy to be fighting between yourselves for land, that belongs equally, proportionately, justly and fairly to all citizens of the Shan States.
    I have written the above with my interest in you, and future young generation if it survives at all.
    S. N. Oo

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