Myawaddy Unrest Affects Normal People More Than Business Owners

Clashes between the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and armed government forces on 27th September have had more social and economic impacts on normal people than on business owners said a ward administrator and business owners.

U Soe Naung, No. 1 Ward Administrator for Myawaddy Township said: “There are also impacts on business owners and merchants, but they will not lead to immediate starvation. Those most affected by the situation are those such as motorcycle taxi drivers and waiters in restaurants who are unable to work and earn their daily salary which supports their families.”

He said the situation arose after recent military clashes and since then business owners have been concerned by the negative impact it has had on trade. Though the flow of goods along trading routes has declined goods are still getting through and none of the main trading routes have been shut down.

Because of the unrest there has been a shortage of workers at construction sites, furniture manufacturers and other small businesses according to U Tin Oo, a Myawaddy based business owner.

He said: “Even in my business none of my workers came in yesterday (28th September). I had to call them to get them to come into work today. Some have not come in for three days. Since there are less goods in the markets porters and daily rate market workers have suffered. Also, workers on construction sites and in the timber industries who come from Yangon, Mandalay and Taung Gyi have returned home.”

He said that though some shops have reopened and traders are trying to get back to normal business many of the residents are still fearful and cautious.

Myawaddy is on the Thai-Burma border opposite Mae Sot in Thailand and is a trading route between the two countries. Armed groups have their offices and forces located there and there are over 60 tax collecting checkpoints belonging to the government and armed groups in the township.

U Soe Naung said that the fact that government army convoy came under fire on 27th September shows that the situation is worsening and that the DKBA cannot control its forces.

He said: “There are probably not that many armed groups. I believe the violence comes from lower level fighters who are recent recruits and are not aware of the history of the revolution.”

The man who targeted the army’s cars wore a Karen Sarong (Longyi) and used an RPG launcher. The DKBA are investigating to find out if he is one of their members according to Capt. Saw Soe Myint the Myawaddy DKBA liaison office head.