Bangkok --- Fighting broke out November 8 between the Burmese junta's troops and Karen ethnic rebels, Thai-Burma border sources said. One day after the Burma election, a splinter group of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) seized the police station and post office in Myawaddy. The Burmese junta's forces launched a counter-offensive immediately.
DKBA Commander Saw Lah Pwe has reportedly said to the media that he seized positions in Myawaddy to protest the elections. The polls have been widely criticized as a 'sham', designed to fortify the military's rule over the country.
Due to earlier skirmishing between the military and DKBA, almost 20,000 refugees have escaped across the border into Mae Sot on the Thai side.
Considering the current vote rigging poll scenario in Burma, armed revolution is still a practical way to attain the final goal of self-determination.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned in its December-4 statement that Thailand ought to stop treating refugees escaping from conflict zone in eastern Burma as "human ping pong balls" who are sent back to their home country too early,
Since skirmishing occurred in November over 20,000 people have escaped across the Thai-border, and while many returned within days, refugees continue to flee renewed conflict, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
The Australian Greens Party senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, has raised the alarm after visiting the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot. The senator says sporadic violence is continuing in eastern Burma, near the Thai border, and says villagers are still fleeing into Thailand in their hundreds and sometimes thousands, the ABC Radio Australia reported on December 3.
The Thai authorities have repeatedly sent back to Burma several hundred ethnic Burman and Karen civilians who fled from Palu and surrounding villages, raising concerns for their safety. For instance, refugees who fled to Thailand on November 27 and received assistance from Thai authorities were only permitted to stay in Thailand for one night before being compelled to return to Burma the next day.
During heavy fighting on November 29, some victims rushed back to Thailand - and were again allowed them staying for one day before Thai authorities sent them back to Burma a second time. When fighting flared again on November 30, the cycle occurred a third time - temporary stay, and then forced return to Burma. Several refugees taking shelter in Thailand said to Human Rights Watch that they were too afraid to return to Burma under current conditions.
According to "Thailand Burma Border Consortium" TBBC's latest IDP report, "Protracted Displacement and Chronic Poverty in Eastern Burma/Myanmar", the main threats to human security in eastern Burma are related to militarization. Under the guise of state building, the Burmese army's strength grew from 180,000 soldiers in 1988 to over 400,000 soldiers currently.
The number of battalions deployed across eastern Burma has approximately doubled since 1995. The junta has announced that if ceasefire groups do not respond regarding the agreement or disagreement on the BGF program, they will automatically be recognized as insurgent groups.
While building good relations with Burma, Thailand's officials should not concentrate only on the economic benefits. Thai government, as a leading member of the ASEAN, should also see the root cause of Burma's domestic war so as to pushing all sides to participate in meaningful political talks. Actually, the military junta, which refuses to accept meaningful dialogue, is the culprit of the five-decade-long civil war that hurt ethnic people along Thai-Burma border as well as neighboring Thailand's business enterprises.
Furthermore, Burma's junta has also notified the 7th Brigade of Shan State Army (SSA) North to consider the option of returning to armed-struggle if the group refused to join the Burma Army-controlled Home Guard Force (HGF). the Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.) said.
The Eastern Region Command Brig-Gen San Oo told the Shan State Army (SSA) North's 7th Brigade to make a clear-cut decision whether it will fight under the Burmese army or return to the jungle. The commander said if the group decided to be Burma Army's controlled unit, it must totally abide by the army's directive. If not, it is free to join its former sister unit, the 1st Brigade of SSA, Shan Herald Agency for News said.
The 7th Brigade and 3rd Brigade transformed themselves into junta run home guard forces in April. The 1st, which is regarded as the strongest SSA unit, with an estimated strength of 4,000, has refused to accept the demand. It has since October already fought four times against attacking Burma Army units.
Moreover, a military checkpoint between the town of Mongla on the Sino-Burmese border and Kengtung in eastern Shan State has been closed since November 22, terminating the transportation of goods in the area.