SHAN-SHAN CONFLICT: Shan inter-ethnic armed conflict averted as Shan youth tries another tactic

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To the relief of the Shan people in Kehsi Township, particularly along the Loi Hon mountain range the armed engagement between the two warring Shan armies, the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) have been averted at the last moment, as the former withdrew from it positions along the mountain range.

Photo Credit to Sai Hsu Harn Loi Hon mountain range post
Photo Credit to Sai Hsu Harn Loi Hon mountain range post

The clashes between  the two have been going on for a month when the SSPP reinforced its troops counting in thousands to dislodge the RCSS, which was speculated that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) were part of the reinforcement, with massive artillery power powers, fighting along side it. The accused parties were quick to dispel the allegations saying that Wa and Palaung (Ta’ang) soldiers serving in various ethnic armies were normal and they they didn’t necessarily belong to either the UWSA or TNLA.

However, the RCSS withdrawal is welcomed by a lot of Shan as this brotherly war with both sides employing soldiers in thousands could be messy and if it happened, the Shan national cause which both professed to be striving for will become blur, or even lost forever.

RCSS Statement
RCSS Statement

In this juncture, the RCSS statement issued recently on July 8 may be one of the rare reasonable positioning where the big picture of Shan national cause and welfare of the people have been mentioned and taken into account, even if some might conclude that it was shying away from the dead sure capitulation of the looming projected heavy military onslaught of the SSPP and its allies.

In its four-point statement it said: The combined SSPP/TNLA troops have been launching offensives against the RCSS in Namtu, Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships causing hardships for the local population; attempting to solve political problems through military means only lead to more difficulties and burden for the local people, and RCSS is only defending its positions; since the military coup in February the whole country has been in socio-economic hardships aside from having to coup with Covid-19 pandemic, and the inter-ethnic conflict would further exacerbate the people’s woes; and therefore, like to urge all those concerned involving in the armed conflicts in northern Shan State to find peaceful solution to resolve the problems.

Shortly after the statement the RCSS completely withdrew from Loi Hon mountain range, leaving the SSPP to take over without a fight.

The RCSS reasoned that it was formed not to kill each other and that it wanted to avoid such brotherly fight.

SSFF statement 7 July
SSFF statement 7 July

So far so good, one would say. But the Shan are still a long way to strive for Shan national cause in unison. The frustration among the Shan patriots are so great, especially among the youth of Shan State,  they recently formed an armed force and political party as they don’t want to side with one group  or  the other, but want to be a mediator.

On July 7, the majority Shan youth, middle aged people and intellectuals announced the formation of Shan State Front for Federal (SSFF) and political party Shan State Liberation Party (SSLP).

Its principles and policies are anti-dictatorship, achieving democracy, federalism, ethnic state rights, and rights of self-determination.

SSFF 12 July
SSFF 12 July

Sao Pha, who is the general secretary of the setup on July 10 told The Irrawaddy: “In Shan State there are two organizations, RCSS and SSPP. The other people like the Karen has KNU and the Kachin KIA. But in Shan State when we look to join in a group in trying to repel the military coup, the RCSS and SSPP are in conflict.”

“That’s why if we join one we will be in conflict with the other. We don’t want to be like this. We just want to route out the military dictatorship. We only want reconciliation between the two groups and don’t want it to go on in the conflict mode. That’s why we formed a federal front,” he added.

Meanwhile, SSFF on July 12 announced its war against the junta and vowed to uproot the military dictatorship which is an obstacle to establish federal democratic union.

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