Tension grows between the NMSP and the Burmese military
February 15, 2017
HURFOM: On February 14, 2017, the Burma Army took control of two New Mon State Party (NMSP) checkpoints along the Thanbyuzayat-Three Pagoda Pass Road and there are growing tensions between the two parties, according to an official from the NMSP.
The Burmese military invaded and took control of the NMSP’s Doe-Kyike Checkpoint near Three Pagoda Pass at 10:00 am on February 14, followed by the Ta-Nom-Ba-Doo (Zee Hna Pin) Checkpoint in Kyar Inn Seik Gyi Township at 2:00 pm on the same day. In order to avoid armed conflict, the NMSP has temporarily withdrawn from their checkpoints; however, concerns are growing over the increasing tension between the two groups.
The Doe-Kyike Checkpoint is now under control of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) #31, led by Second Colonel San Aung and reinforced with troops from other military bases. Hundreds of Burmese troops are currently mobilizing in the Three Pagoda Pass area, according to a NMSP Central Committee member.
Tension between the two parties began in the run up to the 70th Mon National Day celebrations in the village of Japanese Well, near Three Pagoda Pass, after the NMSP ignored orders from the Burmese Army to halt celebrations and a planned military parade.
“High-ranking officials [from both sides] failed to find a solution and because of this they [Burmese Army] have taken control [of NMSP checkpoints]. Now, I’m still in the Ta-Nom-Ba-Doo (Zee Hna Pin) Checkpoint and there are also some of our soldiers. There are equipment and staff to collect and we are preparing to leave the checkpoints,” said Nai Seik Chan, an official from the NMSP’s Liaison Office in Thanbyuzayat.
After the celebrations, NMSP troops who had participated in the military parade on the 70th anniversary of Mon National Day in Japanese Well were stopped by the Burmese Army near a Three Pagoda Pass checkpoint on the Thai-Burma Border and their military equipment was seized. However, an officer from the NMSP’s Three Pagoda Pass Liaison Office said the situation was de-escalated.
“Today, around 10:00 am, they [Burmese Army] took control of the Doe-Kyike Checkpoint and we had to withdraw from our base. We have about 20 troops at the Doe-Kyike Checkpoint. In order to avoid conflict, we’ve left from that checkpoint,” said Nai Seik Rot, an official from the NMSP Three Pagoda Pass Liaison Office.
The following day at 9:00 pm the NMSP received orders from the Burmese military to remove their base in Ta-Dane village, in Three Pagoda Pass Township, creating the possibility of armed conflict, according to a reliable source from the NMSP.
Emergency meetings are now being held by NMSP’s Central Committee members in order to decide how to respond. “The two sides should engage in a constructive dialogue to solve the conflict,” said a Central Committee member of the NMSP.
The NMSP have signed a ceasefire agreement at both the state and union level; however, they have not signed the National Ceasefire Agreement yet.