Yawdserk: Junta stirring up bad blood between Wa and SSA South
Shan State Army (SSA) South leader Col Yawdserk has accused the Burma Army of inciting a resumption of hostilities between his organization and the United Wa State Army (UWSA).
During a recent visit to Panghsang, the Wa capitial, by junta officials, Wa
leaders were reportedly urged to reconsider withdrawal of the UWSA troops from
the Thai-Burma border areas where they have been stationed since 1996. “The
reason, the Burma Army told them, was the areas have been reserved for the
SSA”, said Yawdserk. “The Wa people (who had been relocated to the border areas
since 1999) could stay, but the troops should return to Panghsang (on the
Sino-Burma border) where they came from.”
It was fortunate that Panghsang chose to make inquiries first before deciding on yet another military confrontation against the SSA South, he said.
“They asked me whether or not the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council, “the name the junta has given itself”, according to Xinhua) and the SSA have reached an agreement. I of course replied that there has been no meeting between us, let alone reaching any sort of agreement.”
The two sides have been at an uneasy peace since they last fought in March-April 2005 around Loi Taileng, the SSA’s main base opposite Maehongson, where estimated casualties ran up to as high as 770. “Previous hostilities between us took place, because the Wa were repeatedly fed by the Burma Army with misinformation about how the SSA was serving as an agent for Thailand against them,” he said. “It took some time for me to convince them that it was not the SSA, but news groups like SHAN that have been reporting about drugs and that SHAN is not part of the SSA.”
Yawdserk says parleys between the SSA and the UWSA have been conducted through “a mutual contact person.”
The SSA South, since 1996, has been calling for peace talks with the Burma Army. The latter, before 2007, had responded by insisting that the former was entitled to only one choice: surrender. To many observers’ surprise, junta authorities last year invited the SSA South for peace talks. However, the meeting to be held on 23 May 2007 did not take place, as the SSA had insisted upon meeting at “a neutral ground,” that is, Thailand, while junta authorities were adamant it should be in Tachilek, opposite Thailand’s Mae Sai.
As to why the generals had made a complete U turn in its policy toward the SSA, that is, from “demand for surrender” to “peace talks,” a Thai senior security official commented at that time to SHAN that the object of the exercise was to head off any plans by the Wa to join hands with the SSA if they (the Wa) were pushed.
Apart from the SSA, the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) are the main armed movements fighting against Burma’s military rulers.