MYANMAR: Political uncertainty pushes out ethnic minorities
More than 30 ethnic armed groups have been involved in insurgencies against the central government since 1948, when Myanmar – previously known as Burma – gained independence from British colonial rule.
In the past 20 years, more than a dozen ethnic rebel groups have signed peace agreements with the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).
But there are fears of renewed fighting as the government tries to force the ethnic armies to surrender their weapons and form a special Border Guard Force under Burmese military control before long-awaited elections this year.
“If the political situation in Burma deteriorates further and fighting erupts, we can expect more than 200,000 new refugees, mainly Shan and Wa,” the head of Thailand’s National Security Council, Bhornchart Bunnag, told IRIN.
ဗမာျပည္မွာအကယ္၍ ႏုိင္ငံေရးအေျခအေနဒီထက္ပုိမုိဆုိးရြားလာျပီးတုိက္ပြဲျပန္ျဖစ္လုိ.ရွိရင္ အဓိက ဝျပည္ႏွင္သွ်မ္းျပည္က ေန ဒုကၡသည္ ႏွစ္သိန္းေက်ာ္ထြက္ေျပးရဖြယ္ရွိေၾကာင္း ထုိင္းအမ်ဳိးသားလုံျခဳံေရးေကာင္စီကေျပာၾကားသည္၊
Many of the signatories have resisted this move, including the largest organizations representing the Kachin, Mon and Wa, although some smaller groups have accepted it.
Estimates are rough, but the Wa say they have 20,000 armed soldiers, while the Kachin and Mon have 6,000 and 3,500 respectively.
“At a time when we are trying to accomplish everything through politics, the SPDC wants to do something else,” said James Lum Dau, a spokesman for the Kachin Independent Organization (KIO).
ျပႆနာအားလုံးကုိ ႏုိင္ငံေရးနည္းျဖင့္အေျဖရွာေျဖရွင္းရန္ က်ေနာ္တုိ.ၾကဳိးစားေနတဲ့အခ်ိန္မွာ ဗမာစစ္အစုိးရက အျခားေသာ နည္းလမ္းမ်ားကုိ အသုံးျပဳေနသည္ ဟု ေကအုိင္အုိေျပာခြင့္ရွိသူ ဂ်ိမ္လြမ္းေဒါင္ ကေျပာၾကားသည္၊
Aid workers and analysts say they are bracing for a further influx of thousands of Karen and Mon refugees if fighting resumes.
“The political instability in Burma – with the elections due some time [in 2010] – and pressure on the ethnic armies to disarm, will drive more refugees to seek safety across the border, especially in Thailand,” said Win Min, a Burmese academic based in Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s north.
ႏုိင္ငံေရးတည္ျငိမ္မွဳမရွိဘူး၊ ၂၀၁၀ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲျပဳလုပ္မဲ့အခ်ိန္လည္းေရာက္လာေတာ့မယ္၊တုိင္းရင္းသားတပ္ဖြဲ.ေတြကုိ လက္နက္ခ်ဖုိ.လုပ္လာမယ္ဆုိရင္ ဒုကၡသည္ေတြကလည္းနယ္စပ္ျဖတ္ေက်ာ္ျပီး ေဘးလြတ္ရာေနရာကုိပုိမုိထြက္ေျပးမယ္၊ အထူးသျဖင့္ ထုိင္းႏုိင္ငံကုိေပါ့ ဟု ဦးဝင္မင္းေျပာၾကားသည္၊
Signs of conflict
In August 2009, the Burmese army attacked the ethnic Chinese Kokang, who call themselves the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), near the Chinese border.
The clashes resulted in more than 40,000 Kokang fleeing to China’s southern Yunnan Province; activists say most have yet to return, even though the fighting has stopped.
Fierce fighting in eastern Karen State at the border with Thailand in June 2009 forced more than 3,000 refugees to flee across the border for safety, according to the regional office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Bangkok.
ဂြ်န္လ ၂၀၀၉ခုႏွစ္တြင္ကရင္ျပည္နယ္အေရွ.ပုိင္းေဒသမွာ တုိက္ပြဲျပင္းထန္းစြာျဖစ္ပြားေသာေၾကာင့္ ဒုကၡသည္ ၃၀၀၀ ေက်ာ္ အုိးမဲ့အိမ္မဲ့ျဖစ္သြားျပီးနယ္စပ္ကုိျဖတ္ေက်ာ္ခဲ့ရသည္ဟု ေဒသဆုိင္ရာ ကုလသမဂၢဘန္ေကာက္ရုံကေျပာၾကားသည္၊ထုိ.ဒကၡ သည္ေတြကုိ ထုိင္းႏုိင္ငံထဲမွာ ရွိေနတုန္းဘဲလုိ. Kitty McKinsey ကေျပာၾကားသည္၊
Nearly all of these refugees are still in Thailand, said UNHCR regional spokeswoman, Kitty McKinsey.
“Right now, UNHCR does not feel conditions exist for the Karen or any other refugees in the nine camps along the Thai-Myanmar border to return to their homes in safety and dignity,” she said.
လက္ရွိအေျခအေနအရဆုိရင္ ထုိင္းနယ္စပ္မွာရွိေနေသာစခန္း(၉)ခုကေနကရင္ဒုကၡသည္ေတြပဲျဖစ္ျဖစ္၊အျခားေသာဒုကၡသ ည္ေတြပဲျဖစ္ျဖစ္ သူတုိ.ႏုိင္ငံကုိလုံလုံျခဳံျခဳံ၊သိကၡာရွိရွိျပန္သြားဖုိ.မျဖစ္ေသးဘူး လုိ.သူမကဆက္ေျပာျပသည္၊
Fresh Burmese army offensives are expected against the rebel Karen National Union (KNU) in eastern Myanmar. They have been fighting for autonomy from the central authorities for more than 60 years, and so far have not negotiated a truce.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) – which broke away from the KNU more than a decade ago and agreed a ceasefire pact with the Burmese army – has been forcibly conscripting civilians into its militia in preparation for the new border police force, according to KNU leaders.
ေကအန္ယူကေနခြဲထြက္သြားတဲ့ဒီေကဘီေအကလည္း ျပည္သူ.စစ္တပ္သားေတြစုေဆာင္းေနသည္၊ဒီႏွစ္အေစာပုိင္းကစျပီး မုိးရာသီကုန္ဆုံးသြားျပီးျဖစ္ေပမဲ့ ဆက္လက္စုေဆာင္းေနတုန္းပဲ၊ တစ္ရြာကုိ စစ္သားႏွစ္ေယာက္၊ ေဝါ့ကီးေတာ့ကီးေရဒီယုိ စက္စသည့္ပစၥည္းေတြကုိဝယ္ယူဖုိ.လည္းေကာက္ခံေနသည္ ဟု ေကအန္ယူ အေထြအေထြအတြင္းေရမွဳး ဇစ္ဖုိးရ စိန္းကေျပာၾကားသည္၊
“The press-ganging of Karen villagers started early this year and is continuing now the wet season is over,” KNU general secretary, Zipporah Sein, told IRIN. “Every village has to provide two soldiers and money for equipment like walkie-talkie radios,” she said.
“Successive military regimes have tried to eliminate all the ethnic minorities inside Burma in an effort to purify the population,” David Thakerbaw, a Karen spokesman, said.
ဗမာစစ္အစုိးရက ဗမာျပည္တြင္းရွိတုိင္းရင္းသားအားလုံးကုိ သုတ္သင္ရွင္းထုတ္ရန္ၾကိဳးပမ္းေနသည္၊ဟု ေဒဗစ္ သာကာေဘာ္ ကေျပာျပသည္၊
Muslim ethnic Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, who are considered stateless, typify the extent of systematic persecution faced by ethnic minorities, and have fled in their hundreds of thousands to Bangladesh, rights groups say.
“They are effectively denied citizenship, they have their land confiscated, and many are regularly forced to work on government projects,” Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Burma researcher, told IRIN.
ရုိဟင္ဂ်ာေတြကလည္း ႏုိင္ငံသားခံယူခြင့္ျငင္းပယ္ခံေနရသည္၊လယ္ေျမေတြအသိမ္းခံေနရသည္၊အစုိးရစီမံကိန္းအလုပ္ကြင္း ထဲမွာ အၾကပ္ကုိင္လုပ္ေပးေနရသည္၊
“The regime creates conditions and circumstances that make it clear to the Rohingyas that they are not wanted or welcome in the country,” he added.
Genuine political solution needed
Analysts say the plight of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities will not be resolved until there is a genuine political solution, and their rights are recognized.
“The first thing that needs to be done is to allow ethnic people to be educated in their own languages,” Suboi Jum, a former Kachin Baptist bishop in Myanmar, told IRIN.
ပထမလုပ္ရမဲ့အလုပ္ကေတာ့ တုိင္းရင္းသားျပည္သူလူထုေတြကုိ သူတုိ.မိခင္ဘာသာျဖင့္ ပညာဆည္းပူခြင့္ရွိရန္လုိအပ္ သည္ဟု ကခ်င္ဘုရားေက်ာင္းဆရာတစ္ေယာက္ကေျပာျပသည္၊
And the 2010 national elections – the first to be held for 20 years – are not expected by observers such as the International Crisis Group to be free or fair.
The polls are unlikely to help the process of assimilation or integration of Burma’s ethnic minorities, experts say.
“Burma’s ethnic nationalities will find it difficult to achieve lasting peace and security without a settlement that guarantees their social and political rights,” said Ashley South, a historian of the Mon and an ethnic specialist.
တုိင္း၇င္းသားျပည္သူလူထုတုိ.၏လူမွဳေရးႏွင့္ႏုိင္ငံေရးအခြင့္အေရးအတြက္အာမခံခ်က္မရွိရင္ တည္ျမဲတဲ့ျငိမ္ခ်မ္းေရးႏွင့္လုံ ျခဳံေရးေတြကုိ အခက္အခဲရွိေနလိမၼည္ဟု မြန္သမုိင္းႏွင့္ တုိင္းရင္းသားအေရးကြ်မ္းက်င္သူ ASHLEY South ကေျပာပါသည္၊ လူမွဳေရးႏွင့္ႏုိင္ငံေရး အသြင္ကူးေျပာင္းကာလကုိ တစ္ပြဲရုိက္တာထက္ေရရွည္လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္ေရးဆြဲမွျဖစ္မယ္ ဟု သူကဆက္ေျပာပါသည္၊
“Socio-political transition in Burma is likely to be a drawn-out process, rather than a one-off event.”
|Themes: (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs|
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