Armed Shan group calls on president to end violence

Armed Shan group calls on president to end violence

Senior officials from the Shan State Army-North are calling on Thein Sein to reign in the army and prevent the military from launching any further attacks against their troops.

Although the SSA-N signed a union-level ceasefire agreement in January with the government, the armed group continues to fight off assaults from the Burmese army.

Following a clash with the Burmese Army in Southern Shan State’s Monghsu township on 17 June, the SSA-N met with the government’s Peace Making Committee Deputy-Chairman Thein Zaw on 20 June in Mandalay.

However, the group’s spokesperson Major Sai Lek said fighting in the region has renewed after Burmese forces began shelling one of the armed group’s positions on Kawng Maihoong hill on 30 June.

“We sent the letter to the president on [July 2], signed by Major General Pang Fa [SSA-N’s commander], calling on him to restrain the army in order to prevent the situation from getting worse,” said Major Sai Lek.

“We stressed that the fighting must be stopped to facilitate further union-level talks.”

According to the major’s account, the Burmese Army began shelling Kawng Maihoong hill around 5pm on 30 June prompting SSA-N troops to return fire.

The fighting ended around 10pm, but violence resumed the following morning around 8am when the Burmese Army began shelling of the outpost for about two hours.

Major Sai Lek said another firefight broke out on Tuesday morning, leaving four Shan soldiers injured. According to the major, several Burmese soldiers were also injured during the skirmish; however, they were unable to verify the exact number.

Civilians casualties have also been reported since the fighting broke out in mid-June. A villager was killed during a shelling assault and another was injured, while residents from around 15 villages in the region were forced to flee their homes for safety.

The SSA-N has said if fighting continues after the president has received the letter, the group will consider annulling the union-level ceasefire agreement they signed with the government’s Peace Making Committee on 28 January.

“[With] no peace in Kachin State and clashes continuing to break out in Shan state after the ceasefire agreements [were signed] has made us doubtful about the peace making process,” said General Secretary of the United Nationalities Federal Council Nai Hongsa.

“[Army officials at the bottom] must respect the decisions made by their superiors. How can we have peace in Burma if the subordinates aren’t keeping up with the agreements made by their superiors?” said Sai Nyunt Lwin of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

“Everyone has been seriously working to bring peace and national reconciliation to the country and I would like to urge [the army] to be mindful of this.”

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