Sentencing and Clashes Mark Unsettling Events

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – January 22 by MoeMaKa Media:

Sentencing and Clashes Mark Unsettling Events

In an unexpected turn of events, six Brigadier Generals have been handed severe sentences, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, following a surprising surrender of almost 2,400 soldiers negotiating with the Kokang army MNDAA in Lashio. The surrender, occurring on January 4, clashed with Independence Day, leaving many questioning the circumstances and approval from military headquarters. A subsequent photo circulated of the generals in civilian attire, dining in the Wa area, leading to their detention at the Lashio regional military command headquarters.

After 18 days, on January 22, Shan Herald reported that three of the six generals received death sentences, while the others were sentenced to life imprisonment. The move is seen as an attempt by the military council leaders to counter the demoralizing impact of the surrender and regain control within the army ranks.

The surrender decision was influenced by the presence of over 1,200 soldiers’ families at the DaKaSa headquarters, raising concerns that defending against the MNDAA siege would result in significant civilian casualties. The severity of the sentences, particularly the death penalty, has stirred unease within the military ranks, questioning the timing and its potential repercussions on the morale of the armed forces.

In a unique and sensitive situation, the military court’s verdict marks an instance where army members face execution related to a military operational issue, rather than a criminal offense. While it remains uncertain whether the imposed sentences will be carried out, the impact on army morale is anticipated to be substantial.

Another significant incident unfolded on January 21, involving a clash between the Pa’O National Liberation Army (PNLO) convoy and the Pa’O National Organization (PNO) troops in Hopong Township. The confrontation erupted during a security inspection, leading to the explosion of weapons carried by the convoy and the destruction of more than 20 houses in San Phu Village.

Reports suggest the convoy was transporting over 500 small assault weapons, short-range missiles, RPGs, rockets, and 30,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. While some claim the weapons were destined for armed groups in the Karenni region, this remains unconfirmed. The clash is believed to have been triggered when PNO forces, collaborating with military council troops, opened fire during the convoy inspection.

Contradictory accounts label the incident as a shooting attack between PNLO and PNO forces, but it appears to be a clash between PNLO, signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), and PNO, acting as the border guard force. Military intelligence summoned three PNLO Liaison Office officers in Taunggyi for questioning, releasing them on January 22.

The military council’s attempt to prevent armed conflict with PNLO, coupled with its bid to impede weapons flow to Karenni State, underscores the complex and volatile nature of the ongoing situation.