Parliament Condemns Kokang Supporters in Northeast Burma

By Bone Myat 17 February 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s Union Parliament has slammed backers of ethnic Kokang insurgents engaged in recent hostilities with the government, while praising the Burma Army soldiers who have been on the frontline in the campaign against the rebel group.

Lower House lawmaker Stephen from Shan State’s Kengtung constituency submitted an urgent proposal to Parliament on Monday, asking the legislature to denounce any individuals or groups that have attacked or supported the attacks on military installations in Laukkai Township, where fighting first flared on Feb. 9. The resolution, which was passed without objection, also honored “the military men shouldering responsibility for national security,” he said.

“The offensive is unacceptable while the president is proposing for peace. That’s why I submitted the proposal, which was supported by everyone,” Stephen told The Irrawaddy.

Brig-Gen Tint Hsan, a military parliamentarian who took to the floor in favor of the proposal, said the military would take a zero-tolerance approach to what it considered to be an assault on state sovereignty by the Kokang group, known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

Commander in chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has warned that ethnic armed groups supporting the MNDAA’s fight against Burma Army troops in the Kokang region would be held to account for their actions.

Fighting is ongoing in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone of northern Shan State, with skirmishes reported in the town of Laukkai and its outskirts.

A handful of other ethnic armed groups, including the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), are allied with the Kokang rebels, who are led by Peng Jiasheng.

Lt-Col Ta Ai Ao of the TNLA told The Irrawaddy: “We are helping our comrades as a revolutionary force. I heard that the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army [RCSS/SSA], Kachin Independence Army [KIA] and Arakan Army are assisting [Kokang troops].”

According to the government, from Feb. 9-12, five officers and 42 soldiers were killed and 11 officers and 62 soldiers were wounded in 13 clashes with Kokang rebels. Casualties on the Kokang side are unknown, but state media on Monday reported that the Burma Army had killed 18 rebel soldiers.

The government has used aerial strikes as well as ground offensives in its counterinsurgency operations.