IMNA: Can you speak about the current relations between the New Mon State Party [NMSP] and the State Peace and Development Council [SPDC]?
NMSP: The NMSP’s cease-fire agreement with SPDC has gone on for 14 years and the SPDC is currently planning to hold an election in 2010. The military regime will hold the election according to their desires and the constitution they have drawn up. There will be only one army, which will even control the police department, and all the ethnic armed groups will have to be under that army’s control. That’s why the SPDC is talking with us about forming a Border Guard Force (BGF) for us to be under their control. In this case, none of the strong political parties will be able to accept and only those groups which have weak political views have already accepted the SPDC offer. Like the others, the NMSP can’t accept changing the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) into a BGF, and this will affect the relations between the NMSP and the SPDC. They [SPDC] will still try to find a way to shape the armed groups as they want. This causes more problems for the relations and potential conflict between NMSP and SPDC.
IMNA: What is your opinion on the SPDC offer to change the MNLA into a Border Guard Force?
MNSP: The reason that we all, Mon, Kachin, Karen and Shan, have taken political action, is to gain rights for our nationalities. To be precise, our aim is to gain the right of self-determination of Mon State and for Mon people. We have to hold onto our arms to help reach our goal, as we can’t gain our rights making only verbal demands – we have to have an armed group. No political party can accept handing over their arm force to the SPDC. As we all know today, there will be no hope and no rights for us. That’s why we didn’t accept it because our nation, Burma, is not fully democratic. We can look at National League for Democracy (NLD). Although the NLD gets full support from the people, we can see it can’t do much in terms of political activities. Right now we can carry on our political movement because of our army. If we handed over our arm forced to them, there would be no way for us to carry out political activities. This is has been our experience. After the Mon People’s Front disarmed, we lost all of our opportunities. We have had the experience of losing huge opportunities before and we don’t want that kind of experience to happen to us again.
IMNA: What you mean is that you definitely won’t accept the SPDC offer, right?
NMSP: Well, I will have to say, yes. To say this, as all people acknowledge, we can’t accept the SPDC offer. The SPDC has already known this, that the NMSP won’t be able to accept it.
IMNA: What is the focus of the emergency meeting of the NMSP, which is going to be held during the approaching last week of July?
NMSP: After the SPDC realizes most of the ethnic political parties can’t accept their current offer to change the ethnic armed forces into a BGF, the military regime will turn to another method. That is either to reform the MNLA as a people’s militia force or to just ask how the NMSP wants to change its’ army. The party’s meeting will focus on this issue and how to respond to the SPDC request. We will discuss how to handle what the SPDC will come up with, and the current Burmese political situation as it will vastly affect both the Mon and all the other people of Burma.
IMNA: You just said the SPDC’s political situation will have huge affect, what do you mean by that?
NMSP: We will not be able to keep doing political work and representing the party if we deny their offer. They [SPDC] will provoke us, the cease-fire will end, and peace will end in Mon State. This will happen not only with the Mon but other ethnic groups as well. This is a big change and there will be massive conflict if the SPDC keeps doing what they want and the ethnic political parties are unable to accept their desires. To be clear, civil war will restart again. This change is important.
IMNA: What can happen if NMSP rejects the SPDC offer?
NMSP: I cannot say exactly what will happen. The reason we made a ceasefire agreement was to solve the political problems over the table. We wanted to find a political solution in peaceful way, but, we will have not found a way and we will fight again if the SPDC wants to solve this with arms.
IMNA: Does NMSP have any preparing to do to go to war again?
NMSP: Yes, we have made some preparations in our army.