New alliances and Covid-19

N.B Chyoi / July 22, 2021

Dead bodies of Covid-19 patients at a cemetery / CJ

Fearing success of offensives launched by of newly trained volunteers of People Defence Forces (PDF) or Civil Defence Armies (CDA) to topple the military regime, Burma Army has been desperately trying to cement its ties further with small rebel groups in Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayah and Sagaing.

Threat and vulnerability posed by the civil armies has compelled Burma Army to forge ties with splinter groups so that instead of Burma Armed forces. These Junta sponsored groups will counter the PDF in their respective areas. Burma Army knows that internal resources including financial & man power have dwindled to the greater extent during last six months and to prevent further loss, such alliances are inevitable. Generals also know that ethnic areas have always remained indifferent and they continue to do so. The best option is to engage them in business and grant small benefits. Arakan Experiment has been successful example. Burma Army went for dealing with top leadership of Arakan Army and in lieu of that Arakan remained peaceful.

Recently, top Army Commanders based in Khamti are pursuing hard to engage Nagas of Lahe, Leshi and Nanyun. Their organization National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Khaplang, now led by Yung Aung has been approached and requested to contain the activities of PDF in their Self Administrative Zone. Burma Army is even willing to renew the Ceasefire (2012)signed between NSCN-K and Burma and extend other cooperation like provision of logistics etc. This tactics will definitely help Burma Army to get relieved of some responsibilities. Apart from this, Burma Army has extended support to Indian Rebels especially Kathe (Meitei) and these Meitei helped them to contain the protests in Tamu area. They were given all logistics. Though it was a shameful on the part of Meitei groups like PLA,UNLF and KYKL to target their own people who had actually helped them in the past.

One must notice that Burma Army’s offensives were mainly aimed at Christian dominated areas like Kachin, Karen, Chin, Kayah and Sagaing. In Kachin, many Churches were demolished and Buddha statues were erected overnite, which is larger part of ethnic cleansing. Similar incidents were reported in Arakan prior to 2016. Actually, Rakhine Buddhists are peaceful and they co-existed with Rohingyas but problem started when orthodox Buddhists from Bamar belt started migrating to Rakhine with specific motive. The Operation Dragon (1974) was conceived to change the demographic profile of Arakan but it failed ultimately. So in 2016, a well planned strategy was worked out to change the demographic profile and it helped them to push around seven hundreds thousand Rohingyas from their homeland. Such type of ethnic cleansing is common in China and well visualized in Tibet or Xinjiang, where Hans are encouraged to outnumber the indigenous.

Forging alliances with short term goals are generally complex as aspirations of the small groups increases with time and their realize their strength. The arms make them powerful and they seek expansion, this stage is counter productive and back fire like anything. If such a small groups are empowered by Burma Army, PDF, on the other hand, too gets considerable resources, the intra war begins or more precisely heading towards Civil War.

On the Covid-19 front, second wave in the western Burma has been terrible and Burma Army has not been able to contain the situation. Whether its deliberate inaction by Burma Army or Burma Army wants to punish the people of Sagaing and Chin for their active participation in CDM. Death figures in Chin and Sagaing are missing from the official Government Data. The health workers are tight lipped over ground situation and oxygen supplies. As border has been sealed, the supplies from China and India are not being allowed, although some NGOs and trade associations are supplementing the oxygen supplies at the personal level from Tamu-Moreh sector. But, Junta is silence over the situation.

Only 2.8 % of Burma’s population has been vaccinated, thanks to western neighbour India for supply of 3.5 million doses of Covishield in the early of 2021. People in Burma are reluctant to have Sinopharm or Sinovac as efficacy still remains concern as condition of many health workers deteriorated in Indonesia after being vaccinated. Russia should have supplemented supplies with “Sputnik”. There is need to evaluate the role of so called friends in such critical situations and we must approach neighbours who value human life rather than business.

N.B Chyoi is a Kachin lawyer and geopolitical analyst focusing especially on Burma, India and China.

The opinion expressed here is the author’s own, and does not represent the editorial policy of The Kachin Post.