Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shan State National Day celebrated by Shan Army

Thursday, 10 February 2011 17:09 Jai Wan Mai
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) recently marked Shan State National Day at Loi Tai Leng, the army’s headquarters, opposite Mae Hong Son, Thailand.

Shan State Army-South leaders and various guests on
the stage during festivities at the army’s headquarters
in Loi Tai Leng, across from Mae Hong Song.
Photo : Mizzima
During the ceremony, Lieutenant General Yawd Serk said, ‘Shan State National Day is a day to commemorate the Panglong agreement. Without the participation of Shan leaders, there would be no Federal Union of Burma today’.

The only Shan force that openly fights against the Burmese regime now is the SSA-S, led byYawd Serk. Observers say it’s the strongest force among the non-ceasefire armed groups along the Thai-Burma border.

Yawd Serk, recalling the Panglong agreement, said ‘It was a day when our Shan leaders were united against the British Colony and they wanted to achieve Shan autonomy. Shan people today must help each other to fight for our rights. With the power and the strength of SSA-S, we will ask for our rights.

‘If we cannot get what we want by asking, we will fight for it’, he said.

A Shan girl holds a Shan State National Flag during the
ceremony on Shan State National Day on February 7.
Army headquarters and the satellite communities of camp followers and displaced persons that surround it sits on top of a mountain, where SSA fighters hold positions in which some troops can see nearby troops of the United Waa State Army.

The area is built up and many cars and motorcycles use the roads after passing through checkpoints manned by Thai and SSA-S authorities. The SSA provides electricity to designated areas from 6 to 10 p.m.

During the celebrations, SSA fighters, with their Russian-made AK 47s and M 16s, demonstrated their marching skills, and visitors from Shan State and Thailand participated in organized competition in football, volley ball, track events, badminton and thakraw (cane ball). Shan young people from Loi Tai Leng, Peing Long (Chiang Mai Province) and Mae Hong Son also participated.

At night, Shan culture was displayed in concerts, peacock dances, Shan traditional martial arts and modern Shan entertainment.

General Sao Yawd Serk, the SSA-S leader, during an
interview at Loi Tai Leng, the army’s headquarters.
Photo : Mizzima
Around 2,000 people attended the celebration. Ethnic representatives from the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu  also participated.

Sai Kam Kur, 40, accompanied by his wife and two daughters, said, ‘I want my children to remember this historical day. Today is the day when our Shan leaders were united under the same flag. I want them to see, to hear and memorize this national day’.

His daughter, Nang Jam Leng Mong, 16, who attends a university in Bangkok, said, ‘I see our Shan brothers [troops] training hard to protect the people and defend our country. I am really proud of them. I’m still young and studying, but when I have finished my studies, I will come back and help our people’.

Asked how she will fight the Burmese regime, she said, ‘We have to fight with wisdom.’

The Shan State National Day was founded on Feb 7, 1947, by Shan princes and leaders. The unity of Shan leaders was carried through in the  Panglong agreement. After five days of meetings, General Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic leaders from the Shan, Chin and Kachin minorities, signed the historic document which guaranteed autonomy for those ethnic groups once Burma won independence from Britain. Burma became independent in 1948.

Civil war in Burma started when the Karen and Burma Communist Party took up arms against the government after gaining independence from the British. On May 21, 1958, the Shan began resisting the control of the Rangoon government.

The first Shan resistance group was founded by Sao Noi aka Saw Nyan Tha. Since then, fighting between the Shan and Burmese troops has spread across the state.

However, various Shan armed groups have lost their unity due to different ideologies and interests.

Currently, there are three other armed Shan groups inside Shan State and along the Burma-Thailand  and Burma-China borders: the Shan State Army-North, the United Waa State Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army.

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