TAUNGGYI, Myanmar – A draft national cease-fire deal was agreed in March, but whether the agreement will be signed is questionable, given that the government has refused to recognize six of the 21 ethnic armed groups as potential signatories. The government’s stance has caused a rift among the ethnic organizations. Some, including the powerful Karen National Union and the Restoration Council of Shan State – Shan State Army South, said in August that they would back the deal regardless of others’ involvement, but have since wavered. The Kachin Independence Organization, with an estimated 10,000 fighters, has said it will not sign the national cease-fire without all armed groups on board. If the Kachin were to opt out, any deal would be toothless. “You really need the Kachin involved for it to be comprehensive,” said a close observer of the negotiations, who did not want to be identified.
Mae Sot, Thailand – With his crutches resting against the clinic bed, Than Tin rolls up his trouser leg, gingerly pointing to a heavily bandaged leg stump. “All I remember was being blasted up in the air,” recalls the 48 year old father of 5, hoisting both arms to suggest the impact of the landmine. “First was no pain, but half my leg was gone, but then it was like so bad burning.”