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Mon youth protest against government attacks

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Khithar Non – A crowd of about 100 gathered in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok yesterday morning to protest attacks and kidnappings of civilians and New Mon State Party (NMSP) soldiers. Students and others, mostly from the Mon ethnicity, shouted slogans like “stop fighting in ethnic areas”, “no civil war and “no cheating peace making” during the hour-long demonstration.

“We are very doubtful of what the government is doing with the peace process. The army (Tatamadaw) does one thing, and the government says another thing,” said protest organizer Minn Layie Htaw.

Htaw was referring to a series of recent attacks by the Burma army and militia in NMSP controlled territories of Tennaserism Division. The attacks occurred despite a ceasefire being inked with the government in February of last year.

During the most recent attack on July 26 a pro-government militia burned about 20 homes and abducted a NMSP soldier in Pyi Gyi Matain village.

An attack on a NMSP post by a government battalion near Thuminkalan village on July 16 left 2 Mon soldiers dead and a civilian being kidnapped. The civilian later escaped, making it to the Thai border.

Four days earlier a NMSP soldier and his wife were abducted. The same government battalion is believed to behind the kidnapping.

During the protest, demonstrators held signs with photos of the torched homes, the corpses of the Mon soldiers and a burnt NMSP’s flag from the attack on the NMSP post near Thuminkalan village.

An open letter sent to the Burmese embassy condemning the recent attacks. It listed examples of the government’s failure in following ceasefire agreements with other ethnic armed groups. The letter also expressed concerns from many living in exile of being not being able to return home due to the fighting.

The NMSP sent a complaint letter to Burma army battalions but haven’t released an official statement condemning the attacks or the kidnappings.

Monday was the first time a demonstration of its kind by Mon students in Thailand since the signing of the ceasefire last year.

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