Offshoot of ethnic Mon group joins fight against Myanmar’s junta regime

A splinter group from the New Mon State Party said political dialogue with the junta is no longer worthwhile.
By RFA Burmese
2024.02.14
Offshoot of ethnic Mon group joins fight against Myanmar’s junta regime The 71st Mon National Day was held at the New Mon State Party headquarters in Yecheong-eem area Feb. 1, 2018.
(RFA)

An offshoot of an ethnic Mon organization announced on Wednesday that it will no longer negotiate with Myanmar’s military and will join with anti-junta forces in the fight against the regime.

A splinter group from the New Mon State Party said it has concluded that political dialogue with junta officials wasn’t helping the Mon people reach its goal of establishing a federal union that would “ensure national equality and self-determination.”

“As military council forces continue arresting and killing people, firing artillery shells in Mon state and carrying out airstrikes and arson attacks in Mon state, it is no longer possible for further political discussions with the military council,” the group said in the statement, using a formal name for the junta.  

The breakaway group called itself the “New Mon State Party (Anti-dictatorship)” in the statement, in contrast to the New Mon State Party, or NMSP.

The party’s armed wing, the Mon National Liberation Army, has fought against Myanmar forces since 1949 under various names.

In 2018, the NMSP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, which was introduced in 2015 to end years of fighting over minority rights and self-determination. Some 10 ethnic groups have signed the agreement, or NCA.

The NMSP had remained neutral following the Feb. 1, 2021, military coup d’etat. Mon representatives have met with junta officials three times in the last few years, but with no concrete results, the deputy leader of the splinter group, Nai Banyar Lei, told Radio Free Asia.  

The splinter group is led by Nai Zeya, who was previously the NMSP’s general secretary, the statement said.

Internal disagreements 

Nay Phone Latt, the spokesperson for the shadow National Unity Government, welcomed the new Mon splinter group to the opposition.

“There has been a lot of evidence that it will be very difficult to solve the crisis peacefully with the military council in any way,” he said. “We have realized that the future of our country will be peaceful only if all the ethnic revolutionary forces join hands and end the military group.”

The split within the Mon organization is unsurprising, given the increased amount of fighting with the military throughout the country and the accompanying political tension, said Col. Saw Kyaw Nyunt, the secretary-general of the Karen Peace Council, which is a signatory to the NCA.

Other ethnic armed organizations in the country have also experienced similar internal disagreements over whether continued dialogue with the junta is worthwhile, he said.

Another signatory of the NCA, the PaO National Liberation League, announced on Jan. 26 that it was joining allied forces fighting against the military junta. The PNLO is located in southern Shan state.

Other NCA signatories that have taken up arms against the post-coup military are the Karen National Union, the Chin National Front and the All-Burma Students’ Democratic Front.

RFA couldn’t immediately reach NMSP spokesperson Nai Aung Ma Ngae to ask about the splinter group’s announcement. Junta spokesman Major Gen. Zaw Min Tun was also unavailable for comment.

Translated by Aung Naing. Edited by Matt Reed.

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