Farmers Fearful Of Increased Fighting In Northern Shan State

By Network Media Group
Thursday, June 11, 2020

An uptick in fighting between the Burma Army and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) is concerning farmers in northern Shan State as farming season has come.

“It’s time to work on our rotating farm and paddy field. We’re worried we’ll be arrested at our farms because there’s fighting happening frequently in the area,” says a farmer from Namphetka.

Since the end of May, the Burma Army has been fighting with several EAOs that are part of the Northern Alliance in Muse, Kutkai, Namkham and Mangton townships.

The Tatmadaw clashed with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on June 4, 6 and 7 and reportedly called for reinforcements.

The Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) fought the Tatmadaw from June 1 to June 8.

Maung Maung Soe, a political analyst, told NMG that fighting has so far been limited to relatively small skirmishes.

Nan Pari, a prominent Kachin performer who’s helping Kachin internally displaced persons (IDPs), says no matter whether the fighting is small or large it will cause suffering for farmers.

“We were so pleased when they announced a unilateral ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic. IDPs are facing many difficulties in northern Shan State, and I’m so concerned about these people,” she says.

The Tatmadaw declared a unilateral ceasefire from May 10 to August 10 everywhere in the country except in northern Rakhine State and southern Chin State, where the Arakan Army (AA) operates.

The Northern Alliance—KIA, TNLA, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and AA—announced an extension of its unilateral ceasefire from June 1 to August 31.

The Kachin Peace-Talks Creation Group (PCG) said the recent clashes would not affect the peace process. “We’re talking and moving forward. I think the recent clashes won’t affect the peace negotiations,” says Lamai Gum Ja, who works with Kachin PCG.

Peace negotiations between the government, Tatmadaw and the Northern Alliance have stopped since the pandemic began. Members of the government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center met with the Northern Alliance in Kunming, a Chinese city, earlier this year.

Fighting with AA increased this year in northern Rakhine State and southern Chin State.