The five tribal militias that were supposed to turn themselves over to government control yesterday, refused to. So the government has to decide if there will be another military campaign to persuade the tribes to obey. The tribes have been saying "no" for decades. While the tribes are outnumbered about ten to one by the 400,000 troops in the Burmese army, what counts is how many fighters you can put into the rugged hills of northern Burma. In this case, all the 40,000 or so tribal gunmen are there and ready to fight. The government has a hard time getting even 100,000 troops into the region (lack of roads and towns makes supplying the soldiers difficult). Most of the troops are tied down protecting military supply lines and bases. In the past, the army has had some success by concentrating on one tribe at a time, but even this was not a complete success. Half the tribal militiamen belong to one group, the UWSA (United Wa State Army). The Wa are ethnic Chinese, and many Wa live across the border in China. The Chinese has made it clear to the Burmese government that any attack on the Wa would not be appreciated. The government has tried interfering with trucks (carrying food and other goods) entering Wa territory. The Wa simply get what they need from China, although some Burmese Wa live closer to roads coming from the south, rather than those coming from China.
Bowing to international pressure, the government has agreed to hold national elections later this year, to elect a civilian government to replace the military dictatorship that has ruled for over half a century. However, the generals apparently plan to rig the election, so they, or people they control, get elected. This in itself is not unusual, it goes on in many parts of the world. But the Burmese generals are going to do it right in front of the world community and are daring the righteous to do something about it.
Meanwhile, there has been a sharp increase in terrorist bombs. No one has taken credit, but in the past this violence was either the work of separatist rebels from the north, or anti-dictatorship rebels in the south. Neither group has had much success in overthrowing the military government.
April 28, 2010: In the east, a man being questioned (but apparently not searched) by police in a police station, set off a bomb he was carrying. The bomber was killed and four policemen wounded.
April 27, 2010: Someone threw several hand grenades at workers on a hydroelectric dam site in the northeast. Four workers were wounded.
April 26, 2010: About two dozen of the most senior government officials resigned from the army. This is so these men can run in the upcoming elections as civilians, and keep their jobs.
April 17, 2010: Four bombs went off on a hydroelectric dam site in the northeast. One worker was wounded, and there was some property damage.
April 15, 2010: During the annual water festival in Rangoon (Yangon, largest city in Burma), three bombs went off, killing ten and wounding nearly 200. This was the worst terrorist attack in five years.
April 11, 2010: The government has called on India to provide military assistance (a bribe) so that both countries can go into their mutual border area and destroy camps (on the Burmese side of the frontier) used by Indian rebels.