Today is the final deadline for armed ethnic groups which have signed
ceasefire agreements with the dictatorship in Burma to agree to become
border guard forces or militias under the control of the Burmese Army.
The demand is part of the generals¹ agenda to destroy all opposition ahead
of elections designed to maintain their rule under a civilian guise. Many of
the ceasefire groups play an important role in protecting and promoting
ethnic culture. The dictatorships new constitution does not grant ethnic
people any real level of autonomy, or grant any protection or promotion of
Many of the largest ceasefire groups, including the Kachin Independence
Organisation, United Wa State Army, and New Mon State Party, have refused to
become border guard forces. They see the demands as breaking ceasefire
agreements and amounting to unconditional surrender, without any of their
demands for autonomy and ethnic rights being granted. The ceasefire groups
took part in the National Convention, which drew up the principles of the
new constitution, but every single one of their proposals was rejected.
Burma¹s military dictatorship has already shown it is prepared to use force
to subdue those groups that refuse to submit to its demands. In August 2009
the Burmese Army attacked the ethnic Kokang group, forcing almost 40,000
refugees to flee to China. Already ethnic Mon refugees have started arriving
in Thailand, fearing attacks by the Burmese Army.