Myanmar Gov't, Rebels on Collision Course

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2009 2:50 PM CDT
This map shows Myanmar's states of Shan, Kayah and Karen, where ethnic minorities have been abused by the military junta.
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(Newser) – The tense peace between Myanmar’s military rulers and various armed ethnic groups may fracture into war next year when the government implements a controversial new constitution, the New York Times reports. The constitution requires the rebels to disarm, without granting them the de facto autonomy they currently enjoy in the lucrative borderlands. “I think you will hear a lot of gunfire next year,” an observer says.

Ethnic groups like the Kachin and the Shan have long resented the Burman’s domination over Myanmar’s lowlands, and the rebels make millions in the timber, jade, and drug trades. Experts say another civil war is likely; the Wa, for example, have a 20,000-strong army. “Some of the smaller groups might hand in their weapons, but they don’t matter anyway,” says one author.