A Tatmadaw column is still present in territory controlled by the New Mon State Party even after a request that the troops be withdrawn was made last week when both sides attempted to defuse the military tensions, according to an official.
Around 200 troops from the Tatmadaw’s 283rd and 284th light infantry battalions and 28th and 32nd infantry battalions were reportedly deployed to Taung Pauk, Lai Ka Ni, and Wea Ka Lun villages, near the NMSP’s Mawlamyine District area, earlier this month, with villagers reporting the presence of soldiers after Mon Revolution Day on August 7.According to a member of the NMSP, Tatmadaw columns left Lai Ka Ni and Wae Ka Lun villages three days. The troops remain in place in Taung Pauk Village however.
“A military column comprising around 30 troops still remains [in Taung Pauk Village]. There hasn’t been any development,” said the official from the NMSP.
A community elder from Taung Pauk Village told the Mon News Agency that the Tatmadaw has not visited these villages for two-and-a-half decades.
“The area between Zami and Win Yaw rivers was called Taung Pauk 24 Village in the past. Now, there are around 30 Mon villages here. The military hasn’t come here for 25 years. No fighting has broken out. But the villagers feel uneasy because they see the soldiers,” said the community elder.
Under the ceasefire agreement signed between the military government and the NMSP in 1995, Inn Khwa Village near Taung Pauk Village serves as the headquarters of the Mon National Liberation Army’s (MNLA) Battalion No 1. This agreement was reaffirmed in state and Union-level ceasefire agreements signed by former president U Thein Sein in 2012.
A NMSP delegation, led by vice chair Nai Hong Sar, met with the Tatmadaw’s Bureau of Special Operations 4 in Ye township on August 16 to discuss the military columns, and to request that they be withdrawn.