Junta Urges Myanmar’s Most Powerful Ethnic Army not to Supply Arms to Resistance

By The Irrawaddy 2 June 2022

Myanmar’s military regime has urged the United Wa State Party (UWSP), the political wing of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the country’s most powerful ethnic armed organization (EAO), not to supply arms to the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) fighting the junta.

The regime made the request during a meeting in Naypyitaw on May 30 between coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and a UWSP delegation led by its vice chair Luo Yaku.

The Shan State-based UWSP suggested holding dialogue between the junta leader and detained State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to solve Myanmar’s crisis, sources told The Irrawaddy.

UWSP liaison officer Nyi Rang from Lashio in Shan State, who was part of the UWSP delegation, denied discussing either PDFs or Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the meeting.

In a statement released on May 31, the UWSP described the post-coup crisis as an internal issue of the Bamar ethnic people, and said it would not take sides as it does not want to see its involvement causing further conflict.

The UWSP called for the crisis to be resolved through dialogue as soon as possible, saying many valuable lives have been lost in the armed conflict that has broken out since last year’s coup.

Despite claiming neutrality in the battle between the regime and the resistance, the UWSA has been expanding its territory and consolidating its administration in eastern and southern Shan State. It has deployed troops in mountains near Panglong, Mong Kung, Lawksawk, and Mongshu which oversee the Salween River.

A political observer who asked for anonymity said it is probable that the regime has urged the UWSA not to supply arms to the PDFs.

“It is likely that the regime has urged the UWSA not to provide arms to the PDFs because 50 weapons were seized in Ba Htoo [in southern Shan State]. They were UWSA-made Type-81 assault rifles. The regime assumes that those arms came from Wa State. They have also found 107mm rockets in Karenni [Kayah] State, which they also believe come from Wa State. So it is possible that the regime has asked the Wa not to supply arms to the PDFs.”

Wa State is the name given to the area in eastern Shan State that the UWSP runs as an autonomous zone.

Some EAOs in eastern and northern Myanmar, including the UWSA, are likely supplying arms to the PDFs secretly, said another political observer.

“Not only the UWSA, but the Arakan Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army are supporting the PDFs so that the regime is kept busy and can’t attack them. So they will back the PDFs secretly, but will not support them publicly,” he said.

The UWSP is the fourth EAO to meet the junta leader, following the Restoration Council of Shan State, the New Mon State Party and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council.