တုိင္းရင္းသားအသံ တရားမွ်တမွဳအတြက္တုိက္ပြဲဝင္အသံမ်ား

All-Burma resistance: ‘Never happen’

By Subin Kheunkaew

Mae Hong Son – Efforts to bring together at least seven ethnic minority groups to mount resistance against the State Peace and Development Council in a struggle for autonomy may not be achievable any time soon.
The plan to unite Burmese minority rebel groups so they can pressure the junta for autonomy remains a pipe dream, admitted Shan State Army (SSA) leader Yod Serk in a recent interview.
His statement came just days before the junta made the surprise announcement of a referendum on a constitution, scheduled for May, and a general election in 2010.
Col Yod Serk said the ethnic groups faced internal strife and lacked strong leadership and understanding about a consolidated movement. He said the minority groups should join forces and set up a representative government if they wished to pressure the junta to come to the negotiating table.
“No conditions should be set for the talks until all sides agree to a dialogue.
“The goal is to get everyone on board, shake hands or clink glasses. That would be a hopeful beginning,” the colonel said.
The SSA would let politics lead the fight against the Burmese government, said Col Yod Serk, saying the military approach in pressing for independence was outdated.
So far, he said, only the Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party appear to be most ready to embrace the non-military initiative.
The SSA also wanted to ally with the powerful United Wa State Army, but the UWSA had to resolve its internal problems first, Col Yod Serk said.
The UWSA has been accused of producing illicit drugs under the command of drugs kingpin Wei Sia Kang.
However, Col Yod Serk, who made a pledge to help curb drug trafficking along the Thai-Burmese border, said many key figures of the UWSA have agreed to abandon the illegal business and join him in a fight for independence.
“We’re getting old,” said Col Yod Serk, 48. “We don’t have much time. We have to join hands,” he said.
Relations between the UWSA and the SSA soured after UWSA troops attempted to invade Doi Tai Laeng, the military base of the SSA opposite Mae Hong Son’s Pang Ma Pha district, in 2005.
The failed Wa offensive was reportedly supported by the Burmese junta.
The SSA currently has a force of more than 4,500 fighters, using weapons mostly produced in China.
Col Yod Serk believes if China helps mediate the rift between the SSA and UWSA, the groups would set aside their differences and come to some kind of understanding.
China could also play a major role in creating peace in Burma because the junta respects the Chinese government, he said.
International pressure on the junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest may not be enough to create momentum for change in Burma, he said.
“All ethnic groups should join hands to make their voices heard and push for recognition of their identities and rights.
“We know the Burmese government would fear us if we were able to unite, as it would then give us more negotiating power,” he said.
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