Burma has much to learn from the life of veteran journalist and pro-democracy activist Win Tin, a man of integrity who passed away on Monday.
During the mass urban uprisings [in Myanmar] in 1988, the state pulled the police and military off the streets, sure that chaos would ensue so they could step back in to ‘save the nation’. Instead, communities formed committees that maintained order, while monks directed traffic and controlled food distribution. The state then opened the prisons to flood the cities with criminals, many of whom they paid to create chaos. But the civilian committees arrested troublemakers, and still there was no chaos.
Finally, the army had to proclaim chaos and deployed to mow down thousands of people with machine-guns, arresting and torturing thousands more to end chaos and declare the nation saved. The community networks which had been formed, and the memory of them, did not die – they simply vanished underground. Today, most resistance takes the form of the covert and everyday – evading taxes, misreporting resources, grumbling and joking about junta leaders, spreading subversive news and rumours, leaking information to outside agencies
Kevin Malseed, “Networks of noncompliance: grassroots resistance and sovereignty in militarised Burma”, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Apr ‘09.
This is one of the more remarkable sections of a text I’ve been assigned to read for uni. If you’re interested in Myanmar and the reputed victory of trade sanctions (and that crusading, drone-deploying “force for good in the world” that is the U.S govt) to push the country toward its apparent liberalisation, this article is essential reading. It ought to change the way you see the situation.
He takes a line of argument straight out of James C. Scott’s “Seeing Like a State” (1998) and what must have been an advance copy of “The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia” (2009) to argue that the battle between the Myanma state and the Karen (as well as many other Myanma villagers in the 80% rural country) is a battle over territorial sovereignty and state control that is not helped by the state-based liberal concepts of “human rights” that foreign donors and NGOs push.
Ominously, given the developments since 2009, on p. 366 Malseed questions:
[the] relief and development processes in Burma which exploit villagers’ apparent voicelessness by speaking ‘for’ them using foreign frameworks, which can strengthen the military junta’s control over people in the name of helping them. Thus far their reach has been limited by the regime’s paranoia of their independence; but the harm often done to rural people in other countries by foreign development agendas invites speculation on the results should the political landscape change and outside agencies flood into Burma. The signs thus far are worrying. (Emphasis added).
The Myanma military junta’s recent decision to “reform” and re-enter the state-liberal international order is, in the context of the article’s discussions about the struggle to maintain sovereign control over the the population and territory, quite a bit less astonishing and unexpected.
They need have looked no further than across Thailand to Cambodia and the extension of sovereignty and state control that has been undertaken there in the name of building “institutions of good governance” (in the World Bank’s parlance) to see the value to state elites that stands to be reaped from working within the international state system (the original fraternal cooperation society?) (via unrg)
The linked paper is well worth a read.
The villagers of Thit Ya Kauk village in Burma’s Magway district don’t have drinkable, cookable clean water. The village wells, dug in 1976 and 1982, yield water for washing, bathing, and farming, but, as one villager described it, “The water is hot. You can’t cook with it. If you do, the rice gets spoiled quickly. It’s also yellowish.” They draw drinking water from a spring, which dries up during the hot season.
So a few weeks ago, when U Ohn Myint, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries, and Rural Development, visited them, they thought they’d express their wish for a water purification system. But something about their plea ticked off the cabinet minister. Instead of clean water, he delivered an obscenity-laced rant (captured by someone in a video clip).
"There’s a reason I asked you if you know of other villages around here with clean water," he said. "I should stick to only what I can do for you. It’ll be wrong of me to promise what I can’t do … If you want clean water, you should go live where there’s clean water. It won’t happen in a place like this. Go live where you can get bottled clean water by forking over your money."
Then he grew more flippant. “I’m not a politician. I don’t give anybody a damn,” he continued. “Write whatever you want to write. I’ll flip my sarong at you [to show you what’s underneath] … I’ve worked from 16 to 60. I don’t just blow hot air … I don’t go around calling this person or that person ‘motherfucker’ … I won’t talk to you about the Constitution, or getting power, or free assembly. March as much as you want. If you’re not happy, you can fall flat and die. I’ll do what I have to do.”
Then the minister — who had officially received delegations from South Korea Rural Community Corporation, the UN Secretary General, and the EU’s Agricultural and Rural Development Commission — expressed how he felt about foreign aid.
"No country has ever given us something out of love. They do us from the front, if not then from the back," he observed. "Never mind other countries, even neighboring countries wouldn’t give us … I’ve been dealing with international folks for three and a half years now. I have yet to meet someone who would hand over a pile of money. Only those who would work together for profit."
As the rant went on, the minister grew more defiant. “Don’t talk crap. If you do, I won’t do a single thing for you. You can report it anywhere you want. There are 60,000 villagers in the country. I wouldn’t exhaust them in three years … If you report me, I’ll simply say, ‘I haven’t got around to that village yet.’ Understand? Don’t spoil my charitable spirit.”
Eventually the minister’s monologue culminated into open threats. A former military man, he reminded the villagers, “I went around the country slapping folks as I give speech. Am I clear? … If you oppose the government, we’ll strike. If it can’t be done verbally, we’ll send you to jail. That’s the way it is in every country. If you oppose the government, you go to jail.”
As he got ready to leave, he told the villagers he’d leave behind a memento, a free calendar from the President’s office, inscribed with the motto “We shall build our country with the people’s strength” — as a reminder to the country folks that “[government] can’t do everything by itself.”
Since the footage came to light, some MPs had called for disciplinary actions against the brash minister. In Rangoon, some former political prisoners and pro-democracy groups gathered with signs that taunted, “We’re waiting for U Ohn Myint to slap us on his countrywide slapping tour.”
According to U Ye Htut, a spokesperson for the President’s office, President Thein Sein had reprimanded the reckless minister. However, the official response from the government’s Information Minister U Aung Kyi showed no sign that the Fisheries Minister with a fishmonger’s vocabulary would be censured anytime soon.
According to U Aung Kyi’s statement published in Burmese by The Irrawaddy, the Information Minister acknowledged that U Ohn Myint’s language was inappropriate, but characterized it as “a frank discussion” prompted by emotions and by his kinsfolk-like relationship with the villagers. U Aung Kyi pleaded for time to fully investigate the circumstances of the incident and urged against taking swift action.
U Ohn Myint has since returned to the same village and held a meeting with community leaders (it was also captured on video). But those who expected an apology from him were sorely disappointed. He offered none.
Many former military men like U Ohn Myint turned in their army uniform in exchange for an MP’s dignified jacket and turban. They become part of the quasi-civilian government, allegedly dedicated to reforms. But the civilian garb cannot disguise the old guards’ deep-rooted authoritarian attitude. They continue to think — and act as if — they’re above the Law. Even though they come to power in an election that’s highly criticized, they believe their legitimacy is beyond question. While some army men might genuinely desire democratic reforms, some betray a mindset that’s simply beyond reform. In his own words, U Ohn Myint recalled (fondly, I’m sure) of the days when he and his colleagues “ruled with guns on [their] hips and shoulders.”
The international community and — perhaps more important — the ordinary folks of Burma have more than enough reasons to doubt the new administration’s dedication to democracy, human rights, and press freedom. If the lawmakers fail to take action against the slapping minister U Ohn Myint, and if their censure amounts to no more than a slap on the wrist, it’ll be another black eye on the so-called reformists.
A while ago a local friend – disappointed that, after years of study, my Myanmar-language skills remained roughly equivalent to those of a Burmese cat – gave me a book entitled Burmese Self-Taught (In Burmese and Roman Characters) with Phonetic Pronunciation by RF St A St John, Hon MA (Oxon).
The book, as one might guess from the cumbersome title and author’s name, was the product of Edwardian-era England (it was published in 1911) and was intended as a primer for colonial administrators, civil servants and missionaries relocating from the temperate maritime climate of the United Kingdom to the monsoon tropics of Burma.
It’s a curious little tome.
For starters, Mr RF St A St John, Hon MA (Oxon) mentions in the preface that the “people of Burma” refer to their own language as “Myanma hbatha (the language of the Myanma)”, which might be news to those who are under the impression that the military junta invented the word “Myanmar” out of the blue in the 1990s.
The book also includes an excerpt from an article by Dr Francis E Clarke titled “A Glimpse of Burma” that originally appeared in Christian World magazine on February 3, 1910.
We learn from the good doctor that travellers to Rangoon will find the place teeming not with the “straight-featured, thin-limbed, agile Aryans” to be seen in Calcutta, but rather with “round-faced, jolly, plump Mongolians, with slant eyes and yellow skins, and the merriest of black, twinkling eyes”.
Daw Yin Myo Su is no Johnny-come-lately to the hospitality industry. As a young girl she performed traditional dances to entertain guests at an inn run by her family in Nyaung Shwe, a town near Inle Lake, and today she is managing director of two resorts: Inle Princess Resort, also near the Shan State lake, as well as Mrauk Oo Princess Resort in Rakhine State.
But Daw Yin Myo Su, also known as Misuu, is a woman of many interests, with a reputation near the lake for founding the Inthar Heritage House, a center dedicated to preserving the ethnic Intha traditions of her ancestors. She is also the winner of the 2013 Goldman Sachs & Fortune Global Women Leaders Award. In a conversation with Irrawaddy senior reporter Kyaw Phyo Tha, she discussed environmental conservation and women’s empowerment, and explained why she believes development should not come at the cost of local culture.
Question: What’s your vision for Inle Lake?
Answer: I belong to the Intha tribe and had many sweet childhood memories at Inle Lake, so I’m very proud to come from this simple and warm Inle community. My vision is not that complicated. I believe I inherited the lake from my ancestors, so it’s my responsibility to hand it over to the next generation just as I received it, but with some improvements, like in health and education. I understand nothing lasts forever but I don’t want to give it up without a try.
Q: Now tourists are rushing in. Will this help improve the lake and the lives of local people?
A: So far it has generally had a positive impact on Inle people indirectly, by creating jobs as local guides, boat drivers and souvenir sellers. But there are no more than a dozen locally owned hotels and very few successful local entrepreneurs. With tourism booming, I think locals should see a good share of the benefit. If not, in the long term they will feel alienated.
Q: Do you mean you oppose foreign investment or foreign-run hotels?
A: No, I don’t. You can even learn from them. Instead of seeing them as rivals, we have to compete with them by offering quality services to guests. At the same time, if they want to sustain their businesses, outside investors should take care of the local community. If Inle is no longer attractive to tourists, no one will come—no matter how much you invested. Of course we all need to make money, but you have to contribute to the community. Foreign investors are welcome. Show us a smart way to invest, teach us a smart way to work, be our model. Inspire us. Help us this way, and we will help you. It’s a win-win situation.
Q: How can local businesses stay competitive?
A: Being a local is part of the brand—it’s valuable. Being a local is attractive for tourists who want to visit our country because they really want to understand who we are or how we live. They don’t come here to see something they can see in other countries. For them, something local is authentic. You have to be creative with your current assets to ensure the comfort of your clients. Plus you need to work as hard as foreigners. Don’t be lazy, especially at this moment when everyone is interested in Myanmar.
Q: What are you doing now?
A: I’m working on the Inle Heritage Foundation to preserve the tangible and intangible heritage of Inle and its surroundings. I started with breeding Burmese cats at the Inthar Heritage House, and I also have an aquarium that conserves the endemic fish species of Inle Lake. Since last year we have run a hospitality vocational training center at the Inthar Heritage House for local young people, to help the community diversify their livelihoods and get a bigger share in the development of this industry. We are also running pilot projects on good agricultural practices and waste management for the lake.
Q: Why did you go into the hospitality industry?
A: Hospitality is in every Myanmar person’s DNA. It is taken for granted in Shan State that even a stranger will have a cup of green tea when he drops by at a farmer’s home. I feel great when I make someone happy. I want to help people. If guests tell me during checkout that they were satisfied with our service, I’m on cloud nine! That kind of happiness is beyond expression. Plus I get money from them. Don’t you think it’s good?
BANGKOK — Nearly 750,000 people, most of them members of a Muslim minority in one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, have been deprived of most medical services since the government banned the operations of Doctors Without Borders, the international health care organization and the main provider of medical care in the region.
The government ordered a halt to the work of Doctors Without Borders two weeks ago after some officials accused the group of favoring the Muslims, members of the Rohingya ethnic group, over a rival group, Rakhine Buddhists.
Already, anecdotal evidence and medical estimates show that about 150 of the most vulnerable have died since Feb. 28, more than 20 of them pregnant women facing life-threatening deliveries, medical professionals said. Doctors Without Borders had been the only way for pregnant women facing difficult deliveries to get a referral to a government hospital, they said.
At the time of the order, the government said it was suspending the group’s operations in Rakhine State in the far north, but it has offered no time frame for when services might be resumed. The deputy director general of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein, said in a statement that his department would manage the health needs of the “whole community.” A spokesman for President Thein Sein, Ye Htut, said the government dispatched an emergency response team with eight ambulances after the Doctors Without Borders clinics were closed.
Myanmar’s health services are among the most rudimentary in Asia, and with severe government restrictions on movement that prevent Muslims from seeking medical help outside their villages in Rakhine State, the impact of the shutdown will be severe, medical professionals said.
Doctors Without Borders was by far the biggest health provider in the northern part of Rakhine around the townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, serving about 500,000 people, most of them Rohingya, they said. An additional 200,000 people, many of them Rohingya in displaced camps around the state capital, Sittwe, had access to the group’s services.
In Aung Mingla, a Muslim neighborhood in Sittwe, patients with tuberculosis, a common disease in the area, said they were down to their last supplies of medicine. The Rohingya who live in Aung Mingla are prevented from leaving the district by barbed-wire security posts and police officers.
“Since Doctors Without Borders is not in Rakhine, I don’t know who will provide medicine when my supply runs out in three months,” said one patient, Muklan, 30, who like many people in Myanmar goes by a single name. “I hope Doctors can come back as soon as possible.”
Another Rohingya man, Shafiul, who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Aung Mingla, said he was concerned for his patients with tuberculosis, malaria and H.I.V. “These patients have been getting help from Doctors Without Borders for years,” he said.
In northern Rakhine State, where Doctors Without Borders had run five permanent clinics and 30 mobile ones, about 20 percent of children are acutely malnourished, medical professionals said. An intensive feeding center for those patients was shuttered as part of the government’s directive.
For the most part, Western donors and the United Nations say they are reluctant to antagonize the government of Myanmar, which has started along the path of economic and political reform. The donors have chosen quiet diplomacy over outspoken criticism of the government’s policies toward the Rohingya.
But the action against Doctors Without Borders raised some public alarm.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation,” said Mark Cutts, the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar. “We are in intense discussion with the government in a way that will allow operations to resume as soon as possible.”
The deputy health director, Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein, said the government would accept supplies of medicine for tuberculosis and H.I.V. from Doctors Without Borders. But how these supplies will be distributed remains unclear. Negotiations are underway with the government over the distribution, Western officials said.
Other international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which supports government health centers around the towns of Sittwe and Mrauk U, have been allowed to continue operations in Rakhine. But Doctors Without Borders was by far the largest health provider.
The government targeted the group after its rural clinics provided treatment to 22 Muslims in the aftermath of a rampage by Rakhine security officers and civilians in the village of Du Chee Yar Tan in January. The United Nations says 40 people were killed in the violence that night.
The government has denied that the deaths occurred, and on Tuesday, a presidential commission sent to the village to conduct an inquiry reported that it could find no evidence of the killings. The commission was the third investigative group sent by the government, and its findings matched those of the previous inquiries.
After the killings in January, the government criticized Doctors Without Borders for hiring Rohingya and said the group was giving disproportionate attention to Rohingya patients. Under state regulations in Rakhine, Rohingya are prevented from visiting many of the state-run clinics.
Doctors Without Borders says it has treated patients in Rakhine since 1994 regardless of ethnicity, and foreign aid workers point out that the Rakhine Buddhist ethnic group has access to government health facilities that are generally denied to the Rohingya.
A radical Buddhist leader in Myanmar, Ashin Wirathu, who has compared Muslims to dogs, arrived in Sittwe on Wednesday for a five-day visit that was likely to stir anti-Muslim sentiments further. In a sermon at the main Buddhist temple Wednesday night, he said that if Western democracies were allowed to have influence in Myanmar, the Rakhine people would be overwhelmed by increasing numbers of Muslims, and would eventually disappear.
The monk’s visit appeared to be timed ahead of a national census — the first in Myanmar in more than 30 years — that is due to take place March 30 to April 10 across Myanmar. Tensions during the census, funded in part by the United Nations and the British government, are expected to be high in Rakhine.
Rakhine politicians have said they oppose allowing the Rohingya to identify themselves as Rohingya when they fill out the census forms. If they did, the census would probably show that their numbers are greater than the current estimate of 1.3 million. The overall population is estimated at 60 million.
By shutting down Doctors Without Borders, the government is ensuring that there will be fewer foreigners to witness any outbreaks of violence during the census process, aid workers said.
A collection of critical essays on Myanmar
UN special rapporteur on human rights Tomas Quintana arrived in Arakan state on Monday days after clashes between local police and Rohingya Muslims left at least seven people injured.
With tensions rising between authorities and the state’s Muslim communities, Quintana was met by Arakanese Buddhist protesters Monday who made it clear they were wary of foreign interference in the restive state, where relations between Buddhists and Rohingya remain inflamed after two bouts of religious violence last year left hundreds dead and more than 140,000 people displaced.
“The rally took place at the airport as [Quintana] was arriving. There was no shouting of [slogans] – the participants were peacefully protesting and carrying signs, and there wasn’t that many [participants],” said Arakan state’s government spokesperson Win Myaing.
During the demonstration, protestors held banners calling Mr. Quintana “one-sided” and accused the envoy of backing Arakan state’s Muslim population.
“Whatever he decides to put in his report, I want him to do it correctly and justly,” said Nya Ae from the Rakhine Women’s Network during an interview with Reuters.
Despite the demonstration against the envoy’s visit, Quintana said he was glad to see people exercising their right to protest.
“It’s great that people have the right to demonstrate here in Myanmar (Burma). That shows they have the possibility to express themselves. That’s important. We need to hear all voices,” said Quintana.
The commencement of Quintana’s 10-day trip comes after reports surfaced over the weekend that at least seven people were injured when a group of Rohingya Muslims clashed with the police last Friday.
The unrest reportedly erupted after the body of a Muslim fisherman washed ashore. While authorities claimed the victim drowned after a boat capsized, members from the Rohingya community said the victim was beaten to death.
According to Win Myaing, a mob surrounded a local police outpost in Sittwe and demanded that authorities hand over the body to the crowd. When the police refused to give into the mob’s demand, Win Myaing claims the crowd set fire to a police guard post and about three or four buildings nearby that were previously housed by customs officials.
“I assume the incident was orchestrated because Mr. Quintana is coming for a visit,” said the Arakan state spokesperson.
“It’s not very nice of the [Rohingya] to come up like this when we are trying to work things out for both societies.”
In March, the UN envoy released a statement claiming he had received reports of “state involvement” in the violence between Buddhists and Muslims.
In his statement, Quintana pointed to “instances where the military, police and other civilian law enforcement forces have been standing by while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs.
“This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the State or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”
Quintana is set to visit Arakan, Kachin, Shan and Chin states. The UN representative is scheduled to visit IDP camps in northern Arakan state’s Butheedaung on Monday afternoon.
-Ko Htwe and Shwe Aung provided additional reporting
RANGOON — Three activists in Burma, including a leader from the influential 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, were prevented from appearing at a public event in Mandalay over the weekend, after dozens of Buddhist monks protested their inclusion on the roster of scheduled speakers.
The three activists had planned to give remarks at a literature discussion in Mandalay’s Mye Par quarter on Saturday, but about 40 monks approached organizers in advance of the event and demanded that the trio be removed from the list of speakers. The event was ultimately cancelled.
The activists—Mya Aye, who is a leader from the 88 Generation, Ko Ni, a High Court attorney, and Ma Thida, a well-known writer—told The Irrawaddy that the monks’ stated objection to the three speaking at the event was their Muslim affiliation. Two of the three activists are practicing Muslims.
Despite the monks’ ostensible reason for protesting, the activists said they suspected a “hidden political agenda” was behind the incident.
Mya Aye, a Muslim who has campaigned for democracy in Burma as a member of the 88 Generation for more than 20 years, said the weekend confrontation in Mandalay could tarnish the image of Burma as a country increasingly open to freedom of expression. The monks’ ability to force the event’s cancelation was indicative of the fact that rule of law remained a distance reality for Burma, he said.
The activist linked the monks’ unruly behavior to a recent joint statement by Aung San Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, and 88 Generation members, who pledged to cooperate in pursuit of amending the 2008 Constitution.
“Behind this is a hidden political agenda because there are people who want to create religious problems to get political power as our country prepares for elections,” Mya Aye said.
Burma is slated to hold national elections in 2015.
The weekend incident follows a similar cancellation last week in Rangoon. In both instances, it was monks objecting to Muslim speakers who disrupted the planned events. Ko Ni and Mya Aye were also scheduled to speak at a Rangoon literature discussion that was called off under similar circumstances on Wednesday of last week.
The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society released a statement on Tuesday saying a total of four literature events, including the ones in Mandalay and Rangoon, have been cancelled this year.
“We issued this statement to protect the right of writers who want to have democracy in this country and an end to the military system,” the statement said.
The activists who were denied the chance to speak on Saturday called on all people of Burma’s varied religious affiliations to work together for peace in the country and in support of religious freedom.
Ma Thida is a writer and activist who is not a Muslim, but previously served as a doctor at Rangoon’s Muslim Free Hospital.
“This action could disturb peace in the country. It is sad to see this,” she said, adding that opposition to the country’s ongoing political reforms was likely a motivating factor.
Anti-Muslim violence has broken out in several states and divisions in Burma, much of it blamed on instigators who adhere to the so-called 969 Buddhist nationalist ideology. The 969 movement, led by the Mandalay-based monk U Wirathu, has become increasingly controversial in the last two years after the campaign—claiming that Burma’s Muslims are threatening the Buddhist majority—gained traction nationwide.
The 969 movement calls on Buddhists to shun Muslim communities and buy only goods from Buddhist-owned shops. Critics of the movement say 969 sermons constitute hate speech and can be linked to outbreaks of Buddhist mob violence against Muslim communities throughout Burma.
Since 2012, such violence has left more than 200 people dead and displaced more than 140,000 people, most of them Muslims. Northern Arakan State has been the worst-affected after long-standing tensions between Arakanese Buddhists and the Rohingya Muslim minority exploded and mob attacks led to the death of 192 people in June and October of 2012.
“They cannot force people to believe only one religion,” said Ma Thida. “All Burmese are not Buddhists … It is not appropriate in a democratic system to force a religious belief on someone. They should not act similarly to the [former] military dictatorship.”
Several minority ethnic groups in Shan State say they plan to conduct a population count on their own terms and separate from the government-sanctioned nationwide census scheduled to begin at end of this month.
Win Myint, Shan State Minister for Intha Affairs, said the “Committee to Verify the Accurate Number of Ethnic Nationalities in Shan State” was formed last year and includes members of parliament and civil society representatives from various ethnic groups in the eastern Burmese state including Shan, Palaung, Pa-O, Kokang, Intha and Danu.
“We aim to determine the exact populations of different ethnic groups under our own terms – but there is no plan to submit the findings to the government,” said Win Myint, adding the committee hopes the figures will be useful when the country transforms into a federal union.
“For the most part, we intend to use the count as a means of assessing the needs of local populations – ID cards, householder lists, and for social and education assistance.”
He said the process is set to begin after completion of the government census in April and that a three-month timeframe would be set, which could be extended to up to nine months if necessary.
Sai Than Maung, a committee member and MP in the Shan State Regional Parliament, said the programme will also include local people who do not have national identification cards.
“We are looking to help those thousands of people who have been forced to flee the country over the past 15 years – some of whom who don’t have ID cards – by reissuing their personal documents and householder lists. We are talking with civil society organisations in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, as well as the regional government in Shan State to work out a plan for them,” said Sai Than Maung.
The budget for the project is estimated at 200 million kyat (US$200,000). The committee said it has now raised around 120 million kyat from local businessmen, civil society groups and individual donors.
The Committee to Verify the Accurate Number of Ethnic Nationalities in Shan State was formed on 22 August 2013 with members of parliament, literary experts and influential figures from 84 Shan State townships with 10 representatives each per township.
The confirmation that the Shan groups plan to work independently of the central government and other ethnic groups on the census comes just a day after the Shan State Army- South announced throughDVB that it will not fully adhere to any nationwide ceasefire agreement, but will instead work towards a separate peace deal with the Burmese government.
Meanwhile, the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) reported a clash with Burmese government forces close to its headquarters in northern Shan State’s Kehsi Mansan Township on Tuesday morning.
Sai La, spokesperson for the SSA-N said a four-hour battle took place in the vicinity of Pangse Hill about 15 miles from their Wanhai Headquarters when a Burmese army column deviated from its course and ran into rebel troops. He said several injuries were reported in the fight, but no loss of life.