Closer rapport among Shan groups after Rangoon meet

Those bent on divide-and-rule may not like it, but it is a fact that Shan movements, both armed and unarmed, are developing closer relations following the forum in Rangoon, 26-28 November, when 18 groups of Shans from all over Burma participated, according to sources from Shan State.

The event was “blessed” by President’s Office ministers U Aung Min and U Soe Thein, who, along with President Thein Sein, are known as reformists.

“The sense of harmony was further developed by the Shan New Year Festival in Kengtung (12-14 December)”, said a Kengtung elder. “It seems the more than 50 years of separation has brought us closer to each other.”

The Kengtung Shan New Year celebrations, presided over by the Burma Army’s Triangle Region commander, was taken part by more than 100,000 people from all over Shan State.
The Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), led by Hkun Htun Oo, the principal supporter of the Rangoon meeting, is reportedly planning an all Shan State conference in order to prepare for the nationwide political negotiations with Naypyitaw.

One result was the meeting between Hseng Keow People’s Militia Force, formerly the Third Brigade of the Shan State Army (SSA) and the SSA North in Wanhai, Kehsi township, on 26 December.

The Hseng Keow delegation was led by Sao Loimao and Sao Gaifa, while the host delegation by Sao Hso Ten and Sao Pang Fa, according to sources close to the Wanhai leadership.

The two sides had been on cool relationship with each other, after the former had decided to accept a PMF status under the Burma Army in 2009. “The meeting in Rangoon had brought them back,” commented a source who knows both sides.

Although details of the 26 December meeting was not disclosed, it was likely they were discussing the upcoming conference in April, he added.

The SSA North’s sister organization, SSA South, meanwhile, has been resuming better relations with the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a close ally of the SSA North. The two sides’ relations were strained by the Wa suspicion that the SSA had been working in cooperation with foreign governments against its alleged drug activities and had led to a brief war in 2005.

A UWSA delegation visited Loi Taileng, the SSA South’s main base opposite Maehongson, during the Shan New Year. Its representative Sao Lao Mong reportedly promised his hosts there would be no more war between them.


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