DVB Multimedia Group

Tensions high in Mon State as NMSP office searched

Burmese police officers and Tatmadaw soldiers search the NMSP office in Ye, southern Mon State, on 15 February 2017.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) said that tensions are high in Ye after Burmese military and police officers conducted a search of its liaison office in the town on Wednesday without any prior announcement.

The move came soon after Union Day on 12 February when the NMSP held an armed parade despite objections from local Burmese authorities.

Nai Apang, chief of the NMSP liaison office in Ye, which is in southern Mon State, told DVB that around 20 police and military personnel led by the Southeast Regional Military Command’s 587th Light Infantry Battalion commander Lt-Col Myo Zaw Win arrived unannounced yesterday and searched the premises for weapons.

“They said they were searching for weapons, but provided no other reason,” he said. “We have an official ceasefire agreement with the government, and they should inform us in advance if they want to search our office.”

The NMSP signed a bilateral ceasefire with the Burmese military junta in 1995, but that truce ended in September 2010 when the Mon group rejected Naypyidaw’s insistence that it transform its battalions into Border Guard Force units under Burmese military command.

Although it has engaged in peace talks with the government in the recent years, the NMSP refrained from signing a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015.

“We told the security forces personnel that we have had a ceasefire agreement with the government since 1995 – signed with Gen. Khin Nyunt,” said Nai Apang. “We have no weapons in our liaison office. We do not keep ammunition there. We were ordered not to by our headquarters.”

Two days after the NMSP’s unauthorised armed parade in Phayathonzu Township, the Burmese army reportedly pressured the Mon army to close down two toll checkpoints in the township, fuelling tensions further.

NMSP representatives have recently engaged in talks with counterparts from the Karen National Union after a series of clashes between the two ethnic militias. The KNU is one of eight signatories to the NCA.