Burma Army Seizes Two Military Bases from Mon Armed Group

By Lawi Weng 15 February 2017

RANGOON — The Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) abandoned two small military bases on Tuesday under pressure from a large force of Burma Army soldiers, according to local sources.

One of the MNLA bases was located in Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, and the other was located near Three Pagodas Pass on the Burma-Thailand border.

“They [the Burma Army] ordered our soldiers to leave. They would allow NMSP members to stay at the base, but we all decided to leave it,” Zaw Latt, an MNLA officer, told The Irrawaddy. The New Mon State Party (NMSP) is the political wing of the MNLA.

The actions of the Burma Army on Tuesday are believed to be retaliation for the celebration of Mon National Day, which took place on Sunday, Zaw Latt said.

Prior to Mon National Day, the Burma Army warned the MNLA not to conduct a military parade. The Mon armed forces paraded despite the warning.

On Wednesday, Burma Army soldiers also raided an NMSP liaison office in Ye Township in a search for weapons, according to Mon sources.

“They [the Burma Army] raided the office around 12 p.m., and they were still inside at 3 p.m. But they haven’t detained anyone yet,” Zaw Latt said.

Meanwhile, the Burma Army has deployed additional troops to several areas near MNLA bases. The MNLA said that tensions were high and that major fighting could break out if the Burma Army decided to attack an MNLA base in Three Pagodas Pass.

“If they attack our base in Three Pagodas Pass, our troops will spread the fighting to other parts of Mon State,” Zaw Latt said.

The two bases seized by the Burma Army on Tuesday served as checkpoints on the major roads to Thanbyuzayat and to Three Pagodas Pass.

The MNLA operated the checkpoints to collect taxes from vehicle drivers, providing a major source of income to the NMSP.

In the past, the Burma Army has pushed the NMSP to sign the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), but so far the NMSP has not done so. The NMSP did sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Mon State government in 2012.

The NMSP, which is a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council, has requested for all ethnic armed groups to be allowed to sign the NCA and to participate in the Union Peace Conference political dialogue.