Myanmar: Ceasefires All Around


January 19, 2012:  The government ordered the army to halt military operations throughout the tribal territories (northern and eastern Burma). A month ago the government had issued a similar order, but the fighting continued. This raised questions about how much control the recently elected government had over the army. The troops are always allowed to fight back in self-defense, and army commanders can arrange this by moving soldiers into areas that appear to threaten tribal people. Thailand still reports tribal refugees coming across the border daily.

China is now the primary source of foreign investment in Burma, replacing longtime leader Thailand. Chinese investment has skyrocketed in the last four years, from 1 billion to 13 billion dollars. Last year, China also displaced Thailand as the source of most tourists (65,838 to 61,696).

January 18, 2012: Just across the border in China, Burmese officials and Kachin rebel negotiators met to try and work out a ceasefire deal. The fighting has been going on since last June and has forced at least 60,000 people to flee to Thailand.

Despite peace deals with many tribal groups, the drug trade and various tribal feuds has kept the tensions high in the tribal areas. Pro-government tribes often use the money they now receive from the government to recruit and arm more gunmen for more fighting with other (usually, but not always, rebel) tribes.

January 16, 2012: In the north, the Shan State Army- South (SSA-South) has signed a peace deal with the government. Like other peace deals the initial cease fire is to be followed with introduction of government aid and services, and elections for local representatives in the national parliament.

January 12, 2012: The government signed a ceasefire with the Karen National Union, one of the tribal rebel groups that have been fighting (and signing cease fire deals) with the government for decades.

January 4, 2012:  A bomb went off at a Karen tribal festival, killing four and wounding 40. No one took responsibility and the government was blamed.


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