Conflict Between Burmese Army and Karen Rebels displace Thousands
Sony Sahota | November 28, 2010 at 01:40 pmby
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Renewed fighting between Myanmar’s army and ethnic Karen rebels drove more than 1, 000 villagers into neighbouring Thailand Sunday.
They will join the 200 who fled late Saturday when clashes erupted between Myanmar’s troops and militias from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) for the second time this month.
Clashes underline tensions between the central government and Myanmar’s many armed ethnic groups, which have fought for autonomy since independence from Britain in 1948. More than a dozen rebel groups have tenuous cease-fire deals with the government.
Myanmar’s Military Junta demanded ethnic militias to disarm and join a state-run Boarder Guard Force (BGF) but most have resisted and the larger armies are braced for offensives, which could result in heavy casualties.
The government denied attempts by several leaders to form political parties to run in the November 7 election because of their refusal to transfer their fighters to the BGF. Most do not trust the government and believe Myanmar should be a federal republic.
Analysts expect war is imminent, a scenario that will worry Thailand and key political and economic ally China, who fear protracted conflict, a refugee crisis and a disruption to trade and vital energy projects.