11 March 2009
Wa continue to resist census taking
Latest reports from the Sino-Burma border say the United Wa State Army (UWSA) is still refusing entry to census takers coming from Kengtung, the capital of Shan State East.
A team of 27 government officials who arrived on the Wa border checkpoint Kho-Hsoong on 26 February were forced to return to Kengtung.
Col Than Tut Thein, G1 from Kengtung-based Triangle Region Command, was dispatched to Panghsang, the Wa headquarters last week. “He returned empty -handed on 6 March after spending two days in Panghsang,” said an officer from the Wa’s closest ally National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS), commonly known as the Mongla group by the name of its main base.
Meeting Col Sai Hsarm, Commander of the UWSA’s Mongpawk-based 468th Brigade on his way back, he had reportedly stressed on two points:
* To inform Kengtung as soon as Panghsang is ready to admit census officials
* Not be swayed by exile media “trying to bring the two sides on a head-on collision course”
Tension between the UWSA and the Burma Army has been high since the beginning of the year. According to the Wa’s own estimates, they are being besieged by at least 50 Burma Army infantry battalions.
Mongla, on the other hand, has permitted junta officials to conduct census in its domain, but refused to divulge the group’s own roster.
Local people meanwhile are skeptical about the process which is expected to last until the end of March. “They are taking back our white cards (temporary IDs issued before the May 2008 referendum) without issuing us a substitute in return,” said a villager.
A permanent ID is a pink card.
The ruling military generals are taking a nationwide census in preparation for the 2010 general elections. The New Mon State Party (NMSP) has also refused to provide information on its members and their families, reported Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) yesterday.
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