Since the government has publicly declared its reform plans including national reconciliation, it ought to carefully control its armed forces to support the peacemaking efforts. But, presently, the Burma armed forces seem to be going against the peace plan made by the President. If it was a fabricated story, the people would blame the President as an anti-reformist. The cost of the army’s improper acts will ram the country into another abysmal of calamity.

It seems the government and its armed forces have been playing good guy and bad guy against the armed ethnic groups. Otherwise, is it the military’s intention to change its direction to harm the reputation of the government wherever the bright opportunity emerged?

However, the government should not mislead the people’s hope for change. The ethnic armed groups do not completely trust the government’s peace talks. The fact is that while offering the peace proposal, the government has been increasing its deployment of armed forces in the conflict zones. Above and beyond, the Burma army has been constantly carrying on combating the ethnic rebels which may lead to damaging the president’s reform aspiration.

Lt. Gen. Ywet Sitt, leader of Shan State Army (SSA), talks to Myanmar government negotiators during their meeting in Kengtung, eastern Shan State, Myanmar, Saturday, May 19, 2012. It was second round of peace talks between the government and Shan rebels. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

According to a press release dated April 1, 2013 by Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization, the Burmese Army has given an ultimatum to the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) to clear its troops from the west bank of the Salween River in an area where Chinese companies are planning a mega dam.

On March 26, the Burmese Northeast Regional Commander ordered SSA-N troops to pull out immediately from east of the Tangyan-Mong Kao road or face attack. SSA-N had been permitted to operate in this area under their original 1989 ceasefire agreement as well as under their new 2012 peace agreement.

Thousands of Burmese troops, artillery and tanks have been brought in since February from central Burma and Lashio, to Tangyan and Mong Hsu, south of Mong Kao. Tangyan lies 20 kilometers southwest of Nong Pha, where one of six planned dams on the Salween in Burma is proceeding, as announced in Burma’s parliament on February 27. 

Little is known about the project except for an announcement in December 2009 that Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power No. 1 had signed an MOU with China Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group (HydroChina) to develop two dams, one at Nong Pha and one at nearby Man Tung, on the Nam Ma tributary of the Salween, which will together produce 1,200 Megawatts, says the press release.

As said by Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) on 9 May, it was reported that Thursday early morning Burma Army launched an attack against Shan bases on the Mao (Shweli) valley on the Sino-Burmese border, resulting in local people over 800 to flee for their safety across the border, said local news sources.

Lt. Gen. Ywet Sitt, leader of the Shan State Army (SSA), left, exchanges documents with Gen. Soe Win, the Myanmar government's chief negotiator, during their meeting in Kengtung, Golden Triangle Region, near the Thai border, eastern Shan State, Myanmar, Saturday, May 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

“We did not start the fight. Units of Burma army which are involved in today’s fighting are under the direct command of the Military Operations Command (MOC) 16 based in Namkham. They [Burma army units] are advancing towards areas under our control from 6 directions. Now the fight is still going on. We suffered one death. We have seen 11 Burma army soldiers dead bodies. Some of them have been captured alive by our troops,” said Shan State Army (SSA) Task Force commander Lt-Col Zawm Mong, speaking from the frontline.

The latest clashes broke out after 4 men from the military disguised as portrait photo sellers went missing in the fourth week of April, quoting some local people, Shan Herald News said. Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) is one of the ethnic armed groups that signed ceasefire agreement with Thein Sein government for peace talks in December 2011.

Regional peace talks in Taunggyi, Shan State (South), were held between the government’s Union-level peacemaking group and SSPP/SSA peace-making group on 28 January this year.

The government’s media published a five-point foundation agreement between the two teams. Both teams have agreed peace-building and non-disintegration of the Union through the 28-January agreement.

The RCSS/SSA and Naypyitaw’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee met in Kengtung to sign a 12 point union level agreement on 19 May 2012.  In general, the two sides have signed 3 agreements on 31 points in total since 2 December 2011, according to SHAN.

“So far only two of them have been successfully implemented,” said, leader of the RCSS/SSA.

Some 80 clashes have taken place since the signing in December 2011 due to the fact that the Burma Army, in most cases, has failed to notify the SSA of its planned movements, according to Lt-Gen Yawdserk.

If the President Thein Sein government took no notice of addressing this fragile political topic by way of genuine political dialogue, the ongoing civil war in ethnic territories may not be put out simply.