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Villagers living in fear amid increasing Burmese military incursions into NMSP controlled areas

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Burmese military forces (Tatmadaw) have increasingly trespassed into areas controlled by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in Thaton Township, Mon State and Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township, Karen State, leading to fears of armed skirmishes by locals, according to reports.

Tensions between the two groups grew after the NMSP ignored orders from the Burmese military to refrain from holding military parades in uniform during the 70th anniversary of Mon National Revolution Day on August 7th 2017. Since the NMSP’s refusal to adhere to those orders, several Burmese military incursions into NMSP controlled areas have occurred.

Tatmadaw soldiers seen in the Taung Pauk area. (Photo – Facebook)

However, both sides have met in Ye and Mawlamyine cities agreeing to de-escalate tensions and maintain the current ceasefire arrangement. According to reports, since the talks, around 70 Burmese military troops have been ordered back from NMSP controlled areas in Thaton Township, leaving approximately 30 active troops.

For their part, the NMSP have also withdrawn their troops from the nearby villages where Burmese troops have been active in Thaton Township.

“We’ve been informed that Burmese troops have invaded our Thaton District [Township]. We have already moved [some of] our troops out [of Thaton Township]. No troops are left in the villages [in Thaton Township where Burmese troops are active],” said a high-ranking member of the Thaton District NMSP.

Yet, three Burmese battalion units are still active near the Three Pagoda Pass – Thanbyuzayat Road, as well as the Three Pagoda Pass – Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Road. According to local villagers, these battalions have been stopping and questioning travelers along these stretches of road.

“Traveling from one village to another is normal. We perform our daily life as usual. The Burmese military has been based in Kanbauk, [Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township, Karen State] and are on patrol sometimes. The security of the villagers is not very well. They are afraid that skirmishes will break out. The situation is peaceful, but we live in fear,” said Nai J— from K— village.

On August 23rd 2017, the NMSP led by the Deputy Secretary General Zweya and Head of Home Affairs Department Nai Win Hla, met with the Mon State Chief Minister and his cabinet at the Mon State Government Office in Mawlamyine to discuss the possibility of signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

This article is reported and published by Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)

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