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Mon And SLORC: A Major Battle May B
- Subject: Mon And SLORC: A Major Battle May B
- From: tun@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 11 Sep 1994 23:49:00
Subject: Mon And SLORC: A Major Battle May Be Looming Over Pipeline
MON AND SLORC: A MAJOR BATTLE MAY BE LOOMING OVER PIPELINE
In the second article of a two-part series, James fahn reports
on the progress, or lack thereof, being made in negotiations
between Burma's rulling military junta and Mon separatists.
If the Slorc and the Thai agree on the natural gas deal and
they start to build the pipeline, then the Slorc may launch a big
offensive against us, says a worried Nai Pe Thein Zea.
MNLA has officially beenat war with Burma's military rulers for
decades, but over the last 8 months Mon and Slorcofficials have
been attenpting to negotiate a ceasefire agreement. Those talks
have now stalled.
Fresh from a meeting of the central of the nmsp- the political
wing of the Mon seperetist movement - Pe Thein Zea announced that
the nmsp has decided to suspend talks with the Slorc because the
junta's territorial concessions were too paltry, and its
political concessions nonexistent.
The Central Committee meeting is atill going on, adds the NMSP's
assistant inchurch of foreign affairs, but the decision to halt
the ceasefire negotiations was definite.
Pe Thein Zea decleared that, "we have decided not to meet the
Slorc again until they agree to discuss 24 points which we have
raisefd and which refer to a political settlement."
One of these 14 point is that the Slorc should release Suu Kyi,
the detained Nobel peace prize winner and leader of the party
which won an overwhelming victory in Burma's 1990 elections.
Another is that the Slorc should sing a nationwide ceasefire
with all the guerilla groups.
this suggests that the Mon would only agree to re-start
negotiation in cooperation with other guerilla groups who have
yet to sing a ceasefire. So far, the military junta has
negotiated individual ceasefire agreement with certain groups
- including the Kachin and the Wa - in exchange for allowing
them to administer their own territory.
But the Mon apparently are not ready to team up with other
groups in joint negotiations, even though it would bring them
more bargaining leverage.
While the Mon may be upset at being denied any political
concessions by the Slorc - they would only be allowed to attemded
the natioal constitutional convention if they agreed to lay down
their weapons, Pe Thein Zea said and them only as observers -
they say they are prepared to re-start talks if Slorc offers more
"We don't want to sign a ceasefire agreement without a full
political settlement, but we were willing to sign a general
agreement on where troops would go," Pe Thain Zea explained.
"But each time we met, the Slorc kepe offering us a smaller and
"If they offered us a larger area, it is possible we would accept
it. But this would only be a first step; then we would have to
go into political issues," he added.
Despite such distinction, it remains unclear how such a"general
agreement" would differ from defacto ceasefire.
The MOn are without doubt unhappy with the territorial
concessions offered by the Slorc after three meeting earlier
The first meting was held in Moulmein from Dec 31, 1993 to Jan
3, 1994. The Mon proposed talking control of five big
areas:Moulmein, Htaton, Mergui, Tavoy and the central HQ
The Slorc then reportedly reduced the size of these area but
said it could agree to them. At the second meeting in March, Kha
Rot claims no longer accepted the previously proposed five areas,
instead offering only three. The Mon then proposed a list of
54 pinpoint zones which they would control. But the Slorc said
they could have only 12. At the third meeting in June the Mon
proposed talking controls
of 3-4 pinpoint areas in each of four districts:Moulmein,
Mergui, Tavoy and Hta Ton. But the Slorc stood firmly by its
previous offer the 12 pinpoints. In the end, they were only
offered 12 small zones - each with a five kilometer dadius - in
which their troopswould be allowed to roam freely. Nine of these
zone were in their central Headquarters District, located in the
jungle across the border from the Pa Yew refugee campin
Pe Thein Zea says that at their last meeting with the Slorc,
the Mon were essentially told, "take it or leave it". They have
decided to leave it.
The mnla is not the biggest armed oppsition group, but its
force are startegically placed. They appearently roam in patches
of territory stretching from Htaton in the north down to Mergui
in the south.
Lt Col Kha Rot, an MNLA officer who took in the negotiations,
notes that a ceasefire with the Mon may have led to a good
deal of foreign investment in southern Burma, particularly from
"If there have been a ceasefire, we know that the Slorc planned
planned to build up the highway running fromThree Pagoda Pass
to Thanbyuzayut and on to Kyaikasmi (Amherst), which is a local
center for tourism. They planned to offer hotels concessions
and so on to the Thais, he said.
Pe Thein Zea notes that Slorc, desperate for legitimacy and
hard currency, has sold the gas cheap. Ptt has agreed to by it
for around US$ 2.50 per BTU.
For this Thais, it represents just another sources energy,
albeit a convenient and profitable one. But for the Slorc, it
would bring much needed legitimacy and hard currency. And
Burmese opposition groups fear it could become the final nail
in the coffin for their hopes of winning democracy for Burma
or autonomy from it.
The operation date for the pipeline has been set for mid-1998.
That doesn't leave much time to finance and built it. Both
these aspects will be heavily influenced by the security
situation along the pipeline route, an area which is heavily
populated by both Mon and Karens.
The agreement will results in a singing ceremony this Friday
in Rangoon, between the MNLA and the Slorc in southern Burma
once the raining season has ended. Unless, that is, the two
parties can agree to some from the armed co-existence.
As it stands, Kha Rot claim Mon troops are active north of the
Heinze Basin, where the Slorc also has six battalions in
place. The area south of the Basin is controlled by the Slorc,
Further east, Mon troops are active north of the Zinba River -
along which the pipeline is expected to run - while Karen
National Liberation Forces (KNLF) are active to the
south,according to Kha Rot.
The Karen National Union has so far declined to negotiate with
the Slorc, although it says it is open to dialogue. So even if
the MOn do fine a ceasefire, the pipeline may still be
volneble. Kha Rot says there is also a whole host of smaller
guerilla groups reportedly active in the area, including the
ABSDF, PDF, DPA.
Thai should consider carefully whether their government's
current policies are helping to make peace in Burma or
actually creating more bloodshed.( TN )