TNLA Avoids Conflict To Fight COVID-19

By Network Media Group
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fighting between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Burma Army has decreased in conflict-ridden northern Shan State this month.

Maj Mai Aik Kyaw, in charge of TNLA’s information department, said there were only 2 minor clashes in April. He told NMG the Ta’ang armed group is avoiding confrontation with government soldiers to focus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TNLA extended its unilateral ceasefire in April “to stop the spread of COVID-19.” Mai Aik Kyaw said. “Our people are afraid of fighting but at the same time they fear the virus.”

The TNLA launched a coronavirus awareness campaign in its controlled areas, which included spraying disinfectants, checking temperatures and distributing face masks to villagers.

Mai Aik Kyaw said its medical teams are fighting COVID-19 in remote areas where the government’s health workers cannot reach because of the conflict. He admitted even for the TNLA’s medics working in these areas it’s a “major challenge” because “Burma Army use to launch military offensives.”

Mai Aik Kyaw said they’re monitoring anyone returning to villages and quarantining them to prevent infections from spreading in the community. About 260 were quarantined in 33 different centres. Over half have already been released.

Myanmar (Burma) President’s Office recently created a coordinating committee to cooperate with ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A four-person committee led by Dr Tin Myo Win, the vice-chairman of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center, is working on the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. Khin Zaw Oo, the secretary of the government’s Peace Commission (PC), told the Irrawaddy the government was working with EAOs to combat the virus before the committee was created.

Although the government’s coordinating committee claims to be working with the EAOs it hasn’t reached out to the TNLA. Mai Aik Kyaw told NMG he’s never even heard of it.

In Burma, there have been 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19. while 5 have died and 16 have recovered.