貌强: Mong Tai Army’s Surrender & Restoration of Shan State
with “A Review on the MTA’s Unconditional Surrender” by Col Sao Yawd Serk
By: Maung Chan (Burma’s Chinese)
Before Khun Hsa’s unconditional surrender, Shan State's mighty MTA (Mong Tai Army) - Mong means the land in Shan language, Tai is Shan in Burmese, so Mong Tai Army means Shan Land Army - is a formidable fighting force, numbering some 20,000. Khun Hsa was then MTA’s undisputed leader.
After Khun Hsa’s surrender to the Burma junta, Shan armies gradually became known as 3 main armed forces within the Shan State. They are SSA-N（Shan State Army-North）led by Col Sao Sai Nong, SSA-S（Shan State Army-South）led by Col Sao Yawd Serk and SSNA （Shan State Nationalities Army）led by Sao Gunn Yawd/Col Sai Yi.
SSA-N and SSNA signed the cease-fire agreements with the junta, but SSA-S sticks to active armed resistance and refused to compromise.
The Commander of SSA-S, Col Sao Yawd Serk, 48 years old, is also Chairman of RCSS （Restoration Council of Shan State）.
Col Sao Yawd Serk keeps good relation, understanding and cooperation with all Shan organisations and groups, including SDU（Shan Democratic Union）in Burma and abroad. He talks straight, open to criticism and self-criticism and is ready to listen to different views and standpoints of the elders and the comrades.
Col Sao Yawd Serk is for parliamentary democracy and the rebuilding of Genuine Federal Union in which every state and nation has equality, rights of self-determination and democracy.
For establishing peace and a Genuine Federal Union of Burma, Col Sao Yawd Serk welcomes the UN’s “Tri-Partite Dialogue“, i.e. the military regime, the democratic force and the ethnic nationalities force.
Col Sao Yawd Serk declares war on drugs, asserting, “It is what we should do. Drugs are now not just Burma or Thailand's problem, but a global one”.
Col Sao Yawd Serk insists revolutionary solidarity and armed struggle. He appeals to all to watch out for the Burma junta’s policy of divide and rule, sowing discord and to take precaution against junta’s piecemeal- tactic to “wipe out its enemies one by one”.
In his quest for the restoration of the Shan State, his SSA-S merged with SSNA led by Col Sai Yi on May 21,2005. To fight the common enemy SPDC regime, his SSA-S become part of the five military alliances, together with (KNU) Karen National Union, (KNPP) Karenni National Progressive Party, (CNF) Chin National Front and (ARP) Arakan Liberation Party. Col Sao Yawd Serk is believed to be in favour of forming alliance with the Kachin and the Mon.
He has not opposed KNU's overture to the Burmese junta and its so-called “gentlemen agreement“ ceasefire arrangement outcome. He believes that through dialogue one would be able understand its enemy better and might help open the political arena in Burma, leading to reconciliation and democratisation. On Jan 13, Col Sao Yawd Serk publicized the following piece on how the MTA's unconditional surrender has affected the people of Shan State.
A review on the MTA’s unconditional Surrender
By: Sao Yawd Serk
Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS)
On the coming 25th January 2006, the unconditional surrender of Khun Hsa’s Mong Tai Army (MTA) will be fully ten years. Let us look at if this surrender benefits the people of Shan State. I believe the Shan knows better than any other people who live outside the Shan State. On this issue, I wish to share my opinion to shed some light for the outsiders to see on what has been going on within our country. The timeline could be divided as follows:
The Era Before MTA’s Surrender
· MTA was strong and the Burma Army dare not openly abused the people.
· In the areas controlled by MTA, there were many orphans but they had the chance to learn in MTA operated schools.
· The presence of MTA troops in Shan State gave the hope for the people that they might be able to restore freedom.
No one can deny these achievements by the leaders of Shan State Restoration Council (SSRC) and MTA.
The Aftermath of MTA’s Surrender
· On February 4, 1996, Burmese troops started to burn more than 200 civilian houses in the village of Nam Toom Tai and Pa Saa, Ton Hoong tract, Keng Tong Area.
· On February 8, 1996, some 200 houses or more in Keng Kham, Pang Saa, Pha Sont villages were burned.
· On March 18, 1996, units from SPDC’s 99th Infantry battalion massacred 18 Shan farmers at Ho Yan islands in River Pang. They were villagers from Wan Phai, Hsai Mong tract, Kun Hing Township and were on these fertile islands to cultivate their crops.
· In the same month 53 men, women and children at Hsai Khao, Kun Hing township and 24 at Tat Pha Ho were massacred by these patrols, killing in small groups from 2-5 person at a time.
Altogether 992 victims were recorded during this single year. Countless women and children were raped, in many cases, followed by execution and destruction of evidences to cover up their evil deeds.
Again, no one can deny that these are the prices paid by the Shan people for MTA’s unconditional surrender.
What have the Shan leaders done or what have they been doing? A lot have accused Sao Kor Jerng as being a KMT’s crony. They had blamed Khun Hsa as a narco-warlord and now he had stepped aside to give way to the Shan, to shape their own destiny. What kind of failure has been done? Who are they going to blame? Many such critical questions could be asked without really finding concrete answers. One generally stated argument is that the lack of unity hindered us from achieving our objectives. But we should realize that the unity we seek is not just words but must be applicable in practice also. In theory, strength came from unity, and only with strength can we restore freedom and peace for our people. It’s very easy to appraise unity, but practically hard to achieve.
After MTA’s surrender, following the end of Khun Hsa’s era in Shan resistance, I believe that it’s now time for all the Shan to take responsibility of the task to free our people from slavery. I have been preserving our strength and gradually building up, with no intention or thought of going against any Shan movement. In my quest for unity I went north to meet with Sao Sai Nong (SSA/N) and Sao Gunn Yawd (SSNA) who have made ceasefire with the SPDC. They agreed to merge as a single armed force for the Shan State. But when they went for the SPDC’s recognition, it was rejected. I insisted that, “ to accept or reject our merger is the SPDC’s business but to unite is our business. Whether they agree or not, we must unite our forces”. As a result we signed a pact on September 13, 1996 recognizing SSA as the sole armed force for the Shan State. Since then, I have been continuously upholding the armed struggle or armed resistance path alone until the other factions are ready to join. But sadly, the death of Sao Gunn Yawd had promptly stopped our quest to merge as a single army.
Meanwhile the situation of the modern world is changing fast, and the SPDC is beefing up its forces. In turn, we are forced to continue the armed struggle up to these very days. SSA emerged from the hearts of the people of Shan State and as a result for Burma Army’s oppression. We bear arms, just to defend our lives and protect our love ones. We are in no way aggressive or blood thirsty, but only have no other choice. If any international organization or body could guarantee the lives and identity of our people, war is not going to be the option for our people.
The declaration of Independence by the elders, Sao Hso Khan Hpa, Loong Seng Set (a.k.a) Loong Myat Aung, Loong Khum Hom, Soi Kham Seng, Rev. Panti of Chiang Rai, Loong Khur Hso, Loong Sang Sam and others reflect their patriotism and good intention to free our people. But without thorough analyzing of the situation, without consulting with other concerned parties, rushing to declare independence and formation of a Shan government would yield nothing or benefit our people. It will just be a wishful-thinking undertaking, without any chance to realize the real aspiration of the people.