A coalition of ethnic militias based in northern Shan State has called on Burma’s government forces to halt offensives on its positions and withdraw their troops from the region. It has also called on the Burmese military to pursue a nationwide ceasefire.
A statement on Sunday by the Northern Alliance – comprising the Kachin Independence Army (KIA); Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA); the ethnic Kokang-based Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army – laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Burmese army for the recent wave of hostilities in the Muse area.
The Alliance says that Burmese government forces have instigated clashes in and around Muse, which is a major trading hub based on the Burma-China border. It accused Burmese units of targeting residential areas with artillery attacks. The statement also claimed that the Alliance’s bases have been targeted by Burmese fighter jets and helicopters on a daily basis since the violence broke out on 20 November.
The Northern Alliance stated that its coordinated attack on army and police outposts in Muse on 20 November – an assault that ignited the recent conflict – was provoked by the government forces’ systematic abuse and repression of the ethnic populations in the region.
“We have to defend ourselves as long as the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces] continue their offensive, said TNLA’s Mong Aik Kyaw, a spokesperson for the Northern Alliance. “Fighting back is the only means we have.
“To put an end to the conflict, the government must declare a nationwide ceasefire and withdraw its military forces [from this region]. The government must seek a political solution via dialogue. The Alliance has previously proposed conditions to end the ongoing armed conflict, including an immediate round of political dialogue, as well as the urgent intervention of China in order to create stability in the border region.”
Mong Aik Kyaw said the conflict in Muse is hurting the border trade, which is an essential Chinese interest, and thus the powerful neighbour should intervene.
And he further blamed the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government for scuttling a conference set for 2 December in Kunming in China’s southernmost Yunnan Province.
“They [the government] said they would only meet with the TNLA, AA and MNDAA, but not with the KIA. Also, they initially suggested we should sit for meetings individually. We did not accept that,” said Mong Aik Kyaw.
“We responded that we would only accept a summit that included all of us. They did not accept that, and so the meeting was called off.”
He emphasised that the Alliance was still open to offers of future negotiations with the government.