1. What countries/areas of conflict is your organization working on?
The New Mon State Party (NMSP) is a political organization representing the Mon people of Mon Knmer family in Burma (Myanmar), a country in Southeast Asia. It was founded by Nai Shwe Kyin on 20th July 1958 after the Mon People's Front, it predecessor, surrendered to the then U Nu's government on 19th July 1958. Nai Shwe Kyin was one of the Executive Committee member of the Mon People's Front but disagree with decision of the EC and stayed behing to continue the armed struggle to fulfil the Mon aspiration of self-determination.
The NMSP has passed through several phases of different political changes during th armed resistance of over four decades against the ultra-nationalities Burman governments after Burma's independence from Britain in 1948. In 1974, the military dictatorship headed by Gen Ne Win created the nominal Mon State covering Thaton and Moulmein districts to appease the Mons. The NMSP claims five districts, namely, Pegu, Thaton, Moulmein, Tavoy and Mergue to be incorporated in the Mon State. Thus far the aspirations of the Mons have not been fulfilled yet. In 1983 it become a member of the National Democratic Front (NDF) which is an umberlla organization for all non-Burman ethnic nationalities resisting Rangoon governments for self-determination. A rough estimation of the ethnic nationalities population and distribution of the major ehtnic nationality of Burma is shoun in Appendix A and B respectively to give a rough idea of how they stand.
After 1988 pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed countrywide by the military junta, which took the name of State Law and Order Restoration Concil(SLORC); students,monks and civilians fled to Thailand-burma border the under control of ethnic members of the NDF. The NDF took the initiative to address a wider cohesion of opposition groups by forming the Democratic Alliance of Burma(DAB). comprising 21 organizations in and out of the country. For the first time since the start of armed resistance in 1948, Burman and non-Burma ethnic nationalities reach a common consensus on the need for a free and democratic Burma. This was a historical milestone in the struggle for national unity.
The may 1990 general elections held by SLORC as a resuly of international pressure demonstrated the overwhelming support of the masses of Burma for democratic reform. Destite the landslide vitory by the opposition parties and rejection of the general masses, the military junta refused to step down and instead stepped up its efforts of oppression over the opposition. Members of National League for Democracy (NLD) which won 80% of the seats took desperate steps by fleeing to safe havens under the influence of the DAB. Since they have been given a mandate by the majority of their colleagues to from a government before they came over, the DAB helped them from the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) at Manerplaw on December 18, 1990, led by Dr. Sein Win.
To widen the scope of lobbying and consolidate the democratic opposition forces, a braod based coalition was formed in 1992 under the name of National Council of the Union of Burma(NCUB), which is made up os some of the oldest political parties in Burma and some new organizations. It unites the ethnic natiolalities fighting for self-dentermination with ethnic Burmans through the membership of the National Democratic Front (NDF) , the democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) and the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (NLD-LA), The NMSP is an active member of all the above mentioned fronts with its leaders holding top ranking offices.
Unity through force never lasts long. A stable and long lasting unity can only be achieved peacefully, through negotiation by political means. With this concept General Aung San attempted to unify the country peacefully but it was never honoured by his successors. The SLORC is trying to stay in power by subjugating the people at gun point. Its policy towards the ethnic nationals is to eliminate them.
IN an attempt to mislead the international community, the SLORC in 1993 scheduled a bogus National convention to draft a new constitution with hand-picked members in the majority. This National convention will be conducted according to the dictates of the mailtary junta to assure the leading role of the military in national politics. A pre-drafted guide-line of the Constitution has already been place before members of the convention for necessary approval. It would be rushed through the Convention, followed by a sham general election and perhaps establishing a phony democratic government. Neither the true leaders of ethnic nationalities nor the general population are represented, and therefore it will not be a genuine National Convention.
Since the burtal crackdown on the pro-democracy uprising in 1988, the Burma Army (Tatmadaw) has increased in size to over 300,000 troops, with new tanks, jet fighters and patrol boats from China, for no other reason than to keep a strong hand over its own people. It thrives on war, but will not be able to maintain its power in a state of peace. Considering its history, the Burma Army must regarded as little more than robbers, rapists and murderers. The only distinction is that its men are dressed in uniforms so that people will think they are soldiers. It forcibly took thousands of civilians to the front lint to act as porters. Itconscripted preganant women as porters and were gang-raped by solders at night. Villages were burnt to relocate rural villagers into concentration camps and centralized army villages, in a techinque derived from counter-insurgency strategy known as Total Approach Stragegy or Low Intensity Conflict (LIC).
In late 1991 the military had launched an all-out offensives against the ethnic nationals and the student led opposition especially in the Karen, Kachin, Karenni (Kayah) , Mon and Shan states at the cost of thousands of Burma Army causalities. Demoralized SLORC's soldiers were physically forced to press on, to take Manerplaw, the jungle Headquarter of NDF, DAB and NCGUB in Karen State. Many units were reportedly close to munity. Thus, the seemingly unexpected Burma Army declaration to haly military operations against Manerplaw was not a surprise.
LIC favours political, economic and psychological operations over traditional military warfare. It is anti-insurgency war which has become a war against the whole population. LIC avoids major military confrontation, aiming rather at control of civilian populations by social and economic patterns designed by the LIC strategists. Its techniques include, "strategic helmating" and other forms of forced relocation, and the creation of "free-fire zones". All techniques of demographic engineering, in fact-hamleting, sponsored migration, ethnic cleansing, eviction from rural or urban centres have been used in LIC. LIC includes economic sabotage, political assassinations, terrorization by torture, dissappearance and reprisal killings. It seeks to infiltrate organizations, spread misinformation, and exploit ethnic and other conflicts in order to divide the enemy.
China and Thailand in particular are putting pressure on the Kachin, Karen, Karenni (Kayah) and Mon respectively to come to a settlement with SLORC. They have political, military and commercial relations with SLORC. Most of the neighbours (plus japan, the US , South Korea and others ) find the civil war an obstacle to trade and commercial exploitiatin of Burma's considerable resources (though the illicit teak and heroin trade florish in a civil war cortex, where control is lacking ). It is possible, though unlikely, that these countries have not seen that their support of SLORC's civil war stragegy eill sustain military rule.
2. What specific on-the-ground activities has your organization conducted during 1993 ( please give site, scope, focus and dates of activity ?.)
The National Security Council of Thailand has got the upper hand in directing the Burma policy in Thailand. It is adamant that the civil war in Burma should come to an end. For the present Thailand does not need the Karen, Karenni and Mon areas as a buffer between her and Burma because of the policy of "constructive engegement". Peace in Burma will favour Thai commercial interests for quick profit and help stem the increasing flow of refugees from Burma. Certain projects under consideration, namely, the construction of a series of hydro-electric dams on the Thailand-Burma border, and a pipeline to bring gas through Mon territory from Yetagun, Andamen Sea, and Gulf of Martaban offshore fields, would be risky and difficult in condition of civil war.
The military junta has approached various armed dthnic nationalities asking them to hold peace talks, end the fighting without surrendering their armed and to develop their respective areas or states in the jungles. Duringthe second fortnight of November 1993, Lieutenant GEneral Khin Nyunt invited the Mon, Karen and Karenni armed organisations in the jungles to return to the legal fold and hold talks. The ethnic nationalities have always spoken of a two-stage process for peace: first a cease-fire, then political negotiations. None of Lieutenent General Khin Nyunt's "invitiatios" spoke of a cease-fire or political settlement, but rather of the armed organizations, "returning to the legal fold" and cooperating with SLORC government in the development of their regions. If his statements are to be taken at face value, this is a retreat from the promise made to the Kachin that SLORC would agree a nation-wide cease-fire with other groups before the initiation of talks. However, the Thais have spoken of cease-fire with the other groups before the initiation of talks. However, the Thais have spoken of cease-fires to the Mon, Karen and Karenni, and they have influence with both the ethnic nationalities and the SLORC.
If there were a general cease-fire and peace talks, an early consideration would be the safe return and reesettlement in their villages of the refugees and displaced people, including those displaced under SLORC's forced relocation scheme. A major question would be whether any return could be condidered safe before a solid political agreement had been reached between SLORC and the ethnic nationality organizations.
Whehever it occurred the return and resettlement programme would not simple since in most cases the villages of origin have been destroyed and the fields untended ( in some case for several years). Substantial international relief and development assistance would be required, and an important features of any discussions between the ethnic nationalities and SLORC would no doubt be the woys in which this assistance could be delivered and the respective roles in the relief and development programme of the ethnic nationalities organizations NGOs, international agencies, and the military.
Responding to pressure of the National Security Council of Thailand and SLORC's invitation, five representatives of New Mon State Party (NMSP) met with representatives of SLORC at Moulmein, capital of Mon State, Burma, for the first time from 29th December 1993 to 3rd January 1994. After exchanging formalities, discussion on areas of influence (perimeter) was made. But no substantial agreement was reached and the meeting was adjourned for reporting back to the higher authorities of both sides.
After more than three months interval a second meeting for cease-fire discussion was again made on 20th March 1994. Because SLORC's representatives retracted from what they have already accepted in the first meeting: the meeting was postponed for reconsideration for four days. Talks started again on the 25th March 1994. This meeting too ended in a deadlock. After two days of recess the meeting resumed again on the 28th March 1994, with an understanding to meet again for the third time in the near future, after both sides have reported back to their respective headquareters, and the meeting came to a close.
In the meantime the five Mon representatives are to report back to the Central Executive Committee and if need be to the central committee in preparation for the next negotiation.
3. Who is the contact person in your organization for each project (please gove contact information including name, address, phone, fax, camail)?
The New Mon State Party is on violent resistance since its foundation in 1958. Its headquarters is close to the Thailand-Burma border. Thus, contact with the outside world had to be done through Bangkok, Thailand.
< Some contact address are given>