In an attempt to clear up the confusion surrounding the 4-day long siege of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) to its Loi Gawwan base, opposite Chiangrai’s Mae Fa Luang district, the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) released today the contents of the letter written to the UWSA in February.
The following is the unofficial translation of the letter, dated 17 February 2012, addressed to Chairman Bao Youxiang by RCSS/SSA leader Lt-Gen Yawdserk:
I’m honored to write this letter to you and your members.
Owing to changing circumstances, we the RCSS/SSA have concluded a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese military. However, as we are in experienced and lack far behind others in this respect, we are sending our representatives to you to ask for your advice for the sake of peaceful co-existence, mutual understanding and cooperation for the betterment of our country.
The government led by U Thein Sein have included an agreement on Monghta and Homong sub-townships where your forces have also maintained a presence, and we would like to discuss with you on how we can continue live and let live together.
The Burmese military has explained to us that the reason it is not withdrawing from the area is because it is worried we might take to fighting against each other if it is not there. As for us, we think it will be better for both of us if the Burmese military withdraws. We therefore would like to consult with you how you would propose to do in the event that you were asked to withdraw (from the Homong-Monghta area) by the Burmese military.
According to the SSA South, as the RCSS/SSA is popularly known, it is yet to receive any response on the question by the UWSA.
The two sides have been at loggerheads, since the UWSA dispatched its troops from the 518th Brigade based in Mongyawn and the 248th Brigade based in Hoyawd-Hopang (another source says 775th Brigadebased in Hwe Aw) to lay siege to the Loi Gawwan base on 16 June. The UWSA has accused the SSA of encroaching its controlled territory buy establishing new bases close to its own bases. To which the SSA has denied.
“We are like brothers, Zhao Zhongdang (the UWSA’s deputy commander-in-chief who is reported to be taking care of the group’s day-to-day affairs for the ailing Bao Youxiang) and I,” said Col Gawnzeun, commander of the Loi Gawwan-based Kengtung Force. “And I can’t understand why the UWSA is doing this to us, without conducting proper investigations first.”
So far, to the relief of many, hostilities have yet to break out between the two sides.
One of the senior Thai Army security officers told SHAN the UWSA had been warned against starting the fight, as it did not want refugees pouring into Thailand. “But the tension seems to be easing,” he said. “I hope reason prevails over passions.”
Loi Gawwan is more than 100 miles northeast of the Homong-Monghta area.
The last time the two had fought was in 2005, when the UWSA had accused the SSA of abducting one of its members and denying its troops the use of water from a stream. The fighting stopped only after mediation by “mutual friends”.