Army Extends Ceasefire, but Shan State Clashes Continue

Monday, September 2, 2019

Despite a three-week extension of a unilateral ceasefire that was first declared by the Burma Army late last year, clashes continued in northern Shan State on Sunday between government forces and members of the Northern Alliance of non-ceasefire ethnic armies.

“Clashes did not stop today [September 1]. There was fighting in six locations. There were clashes in Nawng Ho, Hot-tot, and Hpan Ngao Pot in Kutkai Township, Pang Hai and another location in Mong Meik Township, and Pang Hkar in Namkham Township,” Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw, the head of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) information department, told NMG.

On Saturday, the office of the armed forces commander-in-chief announced that a bilateral ceasefire that was due to expire that day had been extended to September 21.

According to the commander-in-chief’s office, “The Tatmadaw [Burma Army] has extended the unilateral ceasefire for another term until September 21, 2019, to extend the expectations of local people in the peace process, for all stakeholders to implement the peace process with true commitment, and to continue ongoing negotiations between [the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Centre] and ethnic armed organizations.”

The army first declared a ceasefire in its northern, northeastern, eastern and central-eastern regional military commands on December 21, 2018. It was set to expire at the end of April 2019, but was extended until June 30, when it was extended again until August 31.

Despite the ceasefire, however, there has been no change in the situation on the ground, according to the TNLA’s information officer.

“There hasn’t been a single clash-less month in our area since they declared the unilateral ceasefire. We’ve had multiple clashes every month. The number of clashes has increased in recent days,” said Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw, noting that the Burma Army continues to send reinforcement troops into areas covered by the ceasefire.

“They have extended the ceasefire several times, but they are still carrying out offensives on the ground. Clashes will continue as long as they keep launching offensives. If that happens, we need to defend ourselves,” Maj. Mai Aik Kyaw said.

The TNLA and two of its partners in the Northern Alliance, the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), have engaged in fierce fighting with the Burma Army since they carried out attacks on army and police targets on August 15.

Sixteen civilians have been killed since then by clashes between the two sides, while another 30 have been injured. Reports of human rights abuses have also increased in the wake of the attacks, which the Northern Alliance members blamed on tensions created by the Burma Army’s movements in the area.