Yebyu residents worry about potential armed conflict after another NMSP and KNU skirmish

January 16, 2017

Due to another armed clash between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karen National Union (KNU) near Karone Ba Tie (Thel Phyu Chaung) village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division, on January 11, 2016, locals have begun to worry that the conflict will continue to grow and they will be affected as a consequence.

The NMSP has defined the Karone Ba Tie village area as their development area and there are many rubber plantations farmed by the [Mon] civilians. However, the KNU disputes this and has said that the Karone Ba Tie village area is controlled by them. These recent armed clashes are due to this territorial controversy.

During 2016, there were 4 instances of armed clashes between the NMSP and the KNU.

We know that this area is the development area of the [New Mon State] Party. We bought the land plot and farmed rubber plants. If there is a fight between the Mon and the Karen, we [may] have to lose all of our plantations in this village. We are just going to cross our fingers and hope there is no skirmish between the Mon and the Karen,” said Nai Htaw, a plantation owner from the Karone Ba Tie village.

As the Karone Ba Tie village is defined as a development area by the NMSP, it contains a military base belonging to the Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) — the military wing of the NMSP. However, the KNU has often trespassed in the area and there has been frequent armed clashes between the two parties.

It is reported that three members of the MNLA have been injured in the January 11 clash.

Karone Ba Tie village is near the Ka Lange Aung village and we declared this as a development area years ago. The Mon and the Karen have usually had conflicts with each other. But we [NMSP] have never trespassed in a development area created by the KNU. The KNU has thousands of acres of [their own] development project area around Karone Ba Tie village. When we created the development project in 2007, we granted 4,000 acres of land to the civilians. Now, the [rubber] plantations can produce latex. If the fighting continues, it’s challenging for the Mon people to stay [and work] in the village,” said Nai Hong Htaw, a former member of the Dawei District NMSP who was involved in the creation of the NMSP development area.

The armed clashes between the MNLA based in Karone Ba Tie village and Brigade #4 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) — the military wing of the KNU — happened two times on January 11, 2016 at 5:50 am for 15 minutes and at 12:00 pm for 30 minutes.

According to the locals, future armed conflict is a cause of worry for the people who live on the border of the NMSP and the KNU controlled areas.

“The Mon are minorities in that [Karone Ba Tie] village. If there is a fight between the Mon and the Karen, the Mon [civilians] will have more risk. The Mon civilians have to rely on the NMSP and if the fighting continues, they [may] have to flee from their residence. Now, the village has been in a state of chaos as some people have begun to flee their homes,” continued Nai Htaw, also a [rubber] plantation owner.

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