For the 1st time since the ceasefire was created, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) will not be celebrating the anniversary of its ceasefire with the Burmese military government in 1995.
According to the Spokesperson of Central Committee of NMSP, there has been significant tension between NMSP and the Burmese military Government during the month of April. This led to the closure of several NMSP offices, including the office in Mon State’s capitol of Moulmein.
Tensions between the NMSP and the Burmese government State Peace and Development Council’s (SPDC) reached a near breaking point when the NMSP refused a final offer to submit to the SPDC’s border guard force (BGF) proposal.
At the time the SPDC had issued an ominous statement declaring that failure to accept the proposal would place the NMSP in a “pre ceasefire relationship” with the SPDC.
However since the April 7th declaration, the SPDC has stepped back from further tension over the border guard issue, a move that has lead the NMSP to reopen its Moulmein office.
During the second week of June, the NMSP decided at a Central committee meeting task NMSP major Pakoa NiThu with managing the NMSP’s main office in Moulmein.
“We did open our office at Moulmein one week ago,” the Spokesperson commented. “[But] otherwise we haven’t made celebration [plans] for our Ceasefire Anniversary.”
However, when asked about the party’s views on the value of the ceasefire between the NMSP and the SPDC, the NMSP representative refused to comment.
According to a former NMSP official who is retired but preferred to remain anonymous, “After the ceasefire we got good communication, we got a chance to teach in our Mon national schools, and in many parts we got to teach Mon language. We also haven’t seen any forced portering [in non free-fire areas].”
The ceasefire has been a divisive issue amongst NMSP members. Since its formation in 1995, the ceasefire has led to the departure of some several senior administrative figures, including Nai Pan Nyunt, the who was the former second-in-command of the NMSP’s armed wing.
Nai Pan Nyunt, who left the party in late 2001, departed with over 100 soldiers under his command to continue to openly fight the SPDC. Named the Hongsawatoi Restoration Party until 2003, and later the Monland Restoration Party (MRP), his group has currently based itself in Tennaserim division, outside of NMSP controlled territory.
In the initial years of the ceasefire the NMSP hosted annual celebrations with ethnic performances in Moulmein at Nge Moe Hotel. However, since 2003 the anniversary celebrations have reportedly grown smaller and smaller, to the point that last year it was held at the NMSP Library Office in Moulmein.
According to party members, the reduction in anniversary celebrations was due impart to financial struggles that developed in 2004. The NMSP refused to send an official delegation to the 2004 Burmese National Convention, and instead sent only observers. Taken as a rebuke by the SPDC, the Burmese military withdrew the concessions of a monthly 4 million kyat allowance to the NMSP, awarded in 1995 when the ceasefire was created.
This year’s absence of a celebration appears to follow from the visible snub during the 2009 celebration. At that time the NMSP invited members from the SPDC military Southeast Command (SEC) to the NMSP Library Office in Moulmein to celebrate the anniversary. However officials from the SPDC never arrived.