Shan attack shatters ceasefire

Clashes occurred between the military and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), which signed October’s nationwide ceasefire agreement, in Mong Ping Township, Shan State, on December 31 and caused deaths and injuries.

Colonel Sai La, RCSS spokesperson, said the clashes lasted over an hour between the military’s 278 Infantry Regiment and the RCSS, which has small bases in Mong Pu Gyi, Mong Ping Township. He said negotiations were needed to avoid more clashes.

“The military attacked us where we camped. They didn’t give any reasons. In the past, we didn’t build bases and operated as guerrillas. But after signing the ceasefire we attempted to stay within bases to gather our men and prevent complications. We made them stay within several small bases,” said Sai La.

“Our side had one death. I don’t know about that of the military. How can clashes be good? We signed the ceasefire because we don’t want clashes. We have to negotiate to prevent the reoccurrence of attacks. It seems like they don’t want us to stay there, instead they want us to live where they want. That is not what the ceasefire said. The exact location has not been agreed yet and we have to discuss that. Clashes are not good for the people and us. We have to negotiate a way to avoid more violence,” he added.

A letter about the skirmishes has apparently been sent to the regional command of the Ministry of Security and Border Affairs in Shan State. It was unavailable for comment.

The ceasefire between the government and eight ethnic armed groups was signed on October 15 and this is the first breach of the deal.

A Ceasefire Observation Committee was founded with 26 members from the government, military, representatives from armed groups that signed ceasefire and civilians in November 2015.

It drew up regulations concerning the ceasefire and a code of ethics for the military and the areas armed groups could deploy to avoid clashes.

The committee is chaired by the government’s Lieutenant General Yar Pyae and includes representatives from the RCSS.

Clashes broke out between the military and RCSS in September, before the deal was signed, causing deaths and injuries for both sides and civilians.