Wa Army Pledges to Continue Push for Independence

The UWSA holds talks with Burmese military representatives and Chinese officials in December 2012. (Photo UWSA)

The UWSA holds talks with Burmese military representatives and Chinese officials in December 2012. (Photo: UWSA)

Ethnic Wa rebels said at a recent conference in Lashio in Shan State they would continue to work toward achieving an independent state in eastern Burma.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has an estimated 20,000 troops based in northern and southern Shan State.

“We have been demanding our own independent state since we reached a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1989. But the government didn’t give any response until now. In the 2008 Constitution, our region is described as an ‘autonomous division’,” Aung Myint, a UWSA spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy.

The announcement by the UWSA came at a conference of ethnic Shan and Karenni groups in Lashio on March 22.

Aung Myint said UWSA representatives who attended the former regime-backed National Convention talks in 1993 also supported independence.

“We do not want separation. We want to develop our region for our people. And we have a long history of staying independent,” said Aung Myint.

The ethnic Wa, who make up about 1 million of the roughly 60 million people of Burma, live mostly in Shan State.

Sai Leik, the spokesperson for the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said: “Wa representatives said they will never separate from the country. But they want a Wa State. If all of the people in the country agree with that, we will have to agree, too. And it is an issue that all leaders of ethnic groups should find an answer to.”

Saw Than Myint, the spokesman for the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, said the only way to resolve the issue was to hold an open dialogue with all the parties involved, including the central government.

“We are not against the Wa as they have the right to demand an independent state. But this could lead to a domino effect, with everyone granted autonomy seeking an independent state,” he added.

19 Responses to Wa Army Pledges to Continue Push for Independence

  1. Shan, Kachin and Chin signed the panglong agreement for their own autonomy but Bama U nu and bama military thugs does not and did not honor Panglong agreement ( legal one) because bama military thugs think and thought Panglong agreement was and is rubbish paper. Karen also did not sign Panglong but Karen were and are bullied by Bama military thugs as well. Kachin and Karen lands are rich of resources and Wa land is mountaineers so Bama military thugs thought and think Wa land is useless. However, Wa should not or does not think they are safe although they are living in remote land from Nay Pyi daw. Be untied and be strong. Very soon , than shwe will send his private army to Wa land for stir up to create small unrest so as than shwe thinks he will get political gain from some naive Burmese. To save the country, DASSK must declare the implementation of federal states in Burma, like US and Aus. That is the only solution to save Burma before too late, too messy created by than shwe. For doing so, DASSK must demand to have bama military power or resign from her post. DASSK and 88 should go to the street again with their people power showing that people power is stronger than than shwe’s private army. If min aung laing open fire, he is the another criminal against humanity.

  2. No Independent State in Shan State or Burma.
    Wa is belonging to Shan State, Burma.
    That is true scenario. If you give autonomy to one group of ethnic and then their leader will ask independent state. It will be occurred civil war within state.
    Wa leaders should not take advantage on country current situation.
    Only true Federation system should be developing for all ethnics and states in Burma.

    • Lost in translation? Independence but not separation?!
      Balkanisation no, autonomous states yes.

    • In a federal system, states collect their own taxes, impose laws that are appropriate for their residents, manage their own budgets and have complete control over natural resources within their boundaries. These are just a few rights of being a statehood in a federal system. Are you sure Burmen are ready to let go of the current oneupmanship they enjoy over the ethnics? Not once in its short history, the Union of Burma (Myanmar) has shown willingness or capability to live peacefully, equally alongside with the ethnics. Why would they bother now?

      The only reason the Burmen military wouldn’t touch the UWSA is that the latter possesses really big and sophisticated guns. The UWSA gave the Burmen soldiers more than just black eyes and bloody noses in previous skirmishes even though they were outnumbered by one-to-20. Because of this, I don’t think Thein Sein would say another thing when the Wa are asking for statehood.

      • totally agree but US will offer military exercise with Bama army for upgrading bama military thugs to counteract Wa or China. Sai lin Kan said civil war will be in Burma if Wa asks independence state.

  3. Balkanization is not a bad idea since there are lots of problems government is facing now. Autonomous region under federation is the best idea. I bet ‘Shan’ , ”Mon’ and ‘Karen’ states will fare better than central Myanmar once they are given a chance to try out their own but under the watchful eyes of Tamadaw.That way we can reduce our loads of governance. We can stay more focus on the necessary things and thrive. This is only my personal opinion.

  4. This is a very misleading headline. The UWSA are obviously still pushing for enhanced autonomy, *not* independent statehood.

  5. George Than Setkyar Heine

    “We do not want separation. We want to develop our region for our people. And we have a long history of staying independent,” said Aung Myint.
    As known worldwide ethnic Chinese (Bao Youxiang and Weh Hseuh Kang with US $ 2 million a piece on their heads for drug producing/trafficking) are heading the UWSA rebel army.
    Every citizen born and bred in Burma are INDEPENDENT since January 4, 1948, of course.
    Today, FEDERALISM is IN VOGUE in BURMA lest the WA forget.
    Of course there is NO PLACE for ETHNIC CHINESE or their PROXIES in Burma as well let me say.
    “We are not against the Wa as they have the right to demand an independent state. But this could lead to a domino effect, with everyone granted autonomy seeking an independent state,” he added.
    Thus, Saw Than Myint’s statement has HINTED the ADVENT of a CLEAR and PRESENT DANGER – an ominous foreboding – on the future of BURMA in case the UWSA governed Wa State of Burma is given a ‘free hand’ (their version of independence) of course.
    And the UWSA owned or version of Wa State in the UNION of BURMA is IRRELEVANT much less WARRANTED as well given the obvious fact that it IMPOSES an IMAGE of a STATE/COUNTRY in the UNION of BURMA which is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE of course as IT CLEARLY POSES a DANGER or CHALLENGE on the SOVEREIGNTY, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY and NATIONAL SECURITY as well of the country least of all I say.

  6. Their demand is not wrong. It’s rightful. BURMESE ruled WA and never will. PRove me wrong.

  7. Everyone knows the majority of UWSA leaders are ethnic Chinese Communists, and Wa region is part of Shan State. The military tried to carve out various ethnic “autonomous regions” out of Shan State, just to lessen the territory of the Shans, and to create more friction among those a dozen or so ethnic groups who have been living peacefully amongst themselves. The military give legitimacy to those Wa drug dealers, giving them sweetheart deals when negotiating for the so-called ceasefire, and now the generals are reaping what they have sowed and we, the rest of the Burmese people inclusive of all ethnic groups, will have to pay for their short-sighted strategy, especially the ex-MI chief Khin Nyunt, who must be the strongest ally of those Wa and Kokang drug bosses. I wonder how Thein Sein and his cohorts will solve this “Wa Independent State” (not autonomy, mind you) demand from their dear allies, short of declaring war on them. The Kachins, who have already given up asking for independence, are forced to solve their long-standing problems vis-a-vis the military on the battlefield and now the Was, well-armed and actively backed by the Chinese, will be the immediate danger to the disintegration of our nation. I suppose the military may have to accept the concept of federalism sooner than we expect. Otherwise, total chaos.

    • Khin,
      Your wise comment is so impressive and so essential to rebuild our Union. Why should we allow Nay Pyi Taw to divide us into pieces?

    • You are right that the ethnic minorities have (can) lived amongst themselves peacefully, excluding Burmen. The only ethnic group going around and killing the other groups are the Burmen. They have overpopulated their own land, and have to invade the neighboring land of the weaker to feed its still expanding population. Even though this is 21st century, Burmen still go about laws of the jungle or stone-aged mentality if I may put it bluntly. Recent killings of the Muslims is further evidence of their disregard of civic rules.

  8. Are the Wa people trying to establish independent and sovereign nation? Since the Wa, Pa O, Palaung, Danu, Shan, Lahu and so on ethnics live in current Shan State, their affairs must be handled by the peoples who live in Shan State. Nay Pyi Taw must not divide and interfere their affairs. Nay Pyi Taw has no right to make decision about the Wa people and their demand.

    Disrespect on the Panglong Treaty by the Burmans is causing endless problems and troubles in the Union. Thein Sein does not know how to build the Union either. The Burmans will keep stirring up problems among minorities to divide that they can keep ruling over the minorities. Our brothers and sisters, Wa people, may not rely on what Nay Pyi Taw is telling them. Wa people may have superior arm forces but this alone may not solve our political problems. For lasting peace, we all better stand together for genuine democratic Union of Burma. Autonomous region may be a good one but Independence seems so alarming to all of us.

  9. Free Wa Independent State! Free Pyu Independent State, Free Tarong Independent State Free Moken (Salone) Independent State! Free Rohingya Independent State!
    Hahaha LOL

    • dear idiot, rohingya never ask independent state,rohingya ask their birth right of ethnicity which is confiscated by dictator ne win.sadly from dictator to educator in burma denying every thing for rohingya ethnic.rohingya got status of world most persecuted people on earth under burmese regime,extremist rakhine, according united nation.ethnic like WA afraid their faith will similar as rohingya.

      • Are you saying that the powerful PLA-supported UWSA would fight for the cause of their “brethren-in-faith” the Rohingya (who are not supported by the Chinese, as far as I am aware of). I propose that Peking should arm all 135 ethnic minority groups in Burma (including the Rakhaings? but the Pyu are gone!) so that all of them are as strong as the UWSA and then all the ethnics (including the Rohingya?) can unite and bring down the evil Bamar regime. Does that sound less idiotic?

        • Rohingya ethnic in Burma never ask for independent state but equal treatment as other ethnic.Rohingya are not strong as WA ethnic so treated very harshly,inhumanly by barma and rakhine with record of world most persecuted people on earth.this should example to other ethnic minority to defend them self including WA ethnic.

  10. As a foreigner, I don’t think splitting Myanmar into pieces is a good idea. One of the main reasons that make Myanmar become a LDC is the non-stop war and tension between ethnic minorities and the government. Myanmar have been lagged behind the world’s development pace and this is not a good time to talk about freedom for the minorities, as the world powers trying to exploit those holes to control Myanmar.
    I don’t know what’s your opinion about the regime, how much you hate them, but as a foreigner, I suggest that the idea about breaking away should be reject.

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