Did U Khun Sa's MTA Exchange Arms
In the ensuing conversation with my friend, I asked him
about the aftermath of the first surrender in the Lwe Lan region and of the subsequent surrenders that took place at the Hoe Mein
Headquarters and other locations.
"It was on the evening of 6th January. All preparations for
the ceremony the next day had been completed and all the weapons had been systematically stacked. Then members of the Military
Intelligence delegation escorted by U Khun Sa, U Kyan Hsu Shin and a few MTA leaders made an inspection round of the arrangements at the
parade ground. I watched U Khun Sa closely at the time. He was smiling and talking all the while and leading the way to show what had
been done. I couldn't detect even a single sign that he was dissembling in any way to conceal his real feelings; he appeared quite calm and
relaxed. Afterwards he sat on a settee that had been placed on the stage to face the assembly. I saw him gazing at the mountain ranges on
the west where the sun had begun to set. He appeared immersed in thought, possibly pondering on his past or future, so I thought. But I
did not notice even a slight shadow of regret, sorrow or disappointment. He appeared absolutely normal and yes, even quite
relieved and cheerful. But put yourself in his place and think my friend. After all he too is a mere mortal just like you and me. So how do you think he felt? To use an extravagant figure of speech, I would say he was like a king, who was about to abdicate, wasn't it?
"Well! The next day on 7th January, Commander of the Eastern Military Command Major General Tin Htut and his delegation arrived at Hoe Mong. U Khun Sa himself greeted the dignitaries and the ceremony began at 1140 hours. The actual handing over of the 2778 men and 1626 assorted weapons together with recorded lists to Major General Tin Htut was performed by Central Committee member U Khun Mein on behalf of U Khun Sa. Next the Commander addressed the assembly and so did U Khun Mein on U Khun Sa's behalf. Then U Khun Sa descended the dais and escorted Major General Tin Htut to inspect the troops and the surrendered weapons. He was smiling, and I daresay with absolute certainty, that it was a smile of fulfillment. The Commander and company were then entertained to lunch after which U Khun Sa presented a gift with deep symbolic significance. It was the double barreled rifle which he had cherished and used since he was a youth and which had never left his side."
"Yes, that's so. Beginning from 5tb January with the surrender at Lwe Lun/Lwe Toon region other surrenders followed almost consecutively at Hoe Mein, Mone Tawt/ Mone Hta, Tachilek and Mong Yawng east of the Than Lwin River. West of the
Thanlwin River, similar ceremonies were held at Mong Pan, Lin Khai, Kunheng, and Namsan regions. Then other ceremonies followed at
Tanyang, Naung Line, Hpartan, Mon Hin and Mon Ha regions in the northern Shan State. The number of men, weapons and ammunition
surrendered up till 2nd April as far as I recall, roughly totalled over 14,000 men, over 8,300 assorted arms, over 2 million rounds of
ammunition and more than 4,700 assorted mines."
"That's right. It's a reasonable assumption anyway. U Khun
Sa himself foresaw this and requested the authorities beforehand to pardon any arms that may have been inadvertently overlooked. You
see some weapons and ammunitions were sometimes hidden and then lost track of and then there were other losses due to unforeseen
circumstances. He had made this request to forestall later misunderstanding if some arms should turn up or be unearthed later.
And as expected, up to now, weapons are being uncovered and found here and there. To my knowledge, over 600 firearms and 400,000 rounds
of ammunition have been found so far. In addition, some individuals or small groups of men in the border areas who were not part of the official
surrender are still straggling in to lay down their arms."
"These youth cadres that you just mentioned. are they children say about 4 to 6 years old recruited by your MTA? There was
much fear and anxiety over this matter even in our neigbourhood. How did you settle the matter of these children?"
"There's no cause for alarm my friend. The military authorities
saw to it that they were sent home to their parents or relatives back in the villages. Even those who lived in far away places like T.anyang were
sent home safely. Everything was done systematically."
"My friend what do you think a heroin refinery is like?
"I believe former SURA members now in Thailand
commented that Khun Sa was selling the Shans down the river."
"OK, OK. I asked the question based on hearsay. But judging from all he has done, he's probably a different person from what they say."
"There's one thing I forgot to mention. There are still some permanently disabled MTA members, people who've lost their limbs, living in Ho Mong with their families. They have nowhere else to go. So they're still there earning their livelihood with agriculture and livestock breeding. Previously they were supported by U Khun Sa. After the surrender, he appealed to the Government to give aid and assistance to enable them to make a living. The Government agreed and is still giving them whatever help is needed."
"Well, I suppose people who are opposed to almost everything will talk ill, no matter what! At the time of your surrender, the NLD roadside soapbox orators were at their loudest, ranting at passers-by. On one of these occasions they held a sort of talk show in the form of Questions & Answers. They had nothing good to say about the Government or U Khun Sa and his MTA. There were a lot of veiled remarks and innuendoes to discredit and defame all concerned."
"Let them say anything they want. We all know that the people as a whole welcomed the surrender and are glad about it."
"That's a fact. We shouldn't heed negligible and petty matters like that."
"Certainly not. History will speak for itself. It's the best witness. Because the Armed Forces Government pursued the right national policy it was able to hold discussions and make peace will and the ability to do the right thing. Peace has been achieved in most of the country because these conditions have been fulfilled. Then there was this surge for peace that reverberated throughout the country. You know peace cannot be had just because a single individual desires it. It must be the common desire of the entire group or faction concerned, in fact it must be the desire of the entire people."
"Undoubtedly. No organization can agree to any sort of peace terms just by the will of a single individual. There has to be a consensus."
"It was the same for the MTA. The unconditional surrender succeeded not just because U Khun Sa personally wished for it. It succeeded because there was this consensus for peace among the MTA members. As I said, peace had been established in the areas surrounding our MTA enclave and this had an impact on the people living in areas under our control, in the areas we were operating in. U Khun Sa himself came under this impact and began to entertain thoughts for peace. This coincided with certain military setbacks and losses of the MTA, and also with some turmoil within the organization itself. All this added to U Khun Sa's wish to end the closing chapters of his life on a positive historical note, propelled him towards a firm decision to surrender unconditionally. The majority of the MTA members who had been hankering for peace approved of his decision and they all helped and contributed towards the realization of this goal."
"That was the right thing to do."
"Actually, I think people who cannot appreciate the true value of peace become hostile and negative in their outlook."
"You're right. But to be more precise we should say those who reject the value of peace, not those who don't appreciate peace. Peace is really priceless. Looked at super ficially, there seems to be nothing very unusual or complicated about an arms surrender. People might think it's quite simple and straightforward. But the complexities involved in making the arrangements, and the difficulties encountered have to be experienced to be believed. Yet what I've told you is just what I saw, what I observed and understood to the best of my knowledge. There are still many other factors of which I'm still unaware."
"Leaving aside the difficulties, I want the people with negative and pessimistic views to know the sacrifices made in blood and tears by our Government forces as well as the MTA troops."
"We should also acknowledge those who did not have to sacrifice any blood but nevertheless put their life on the line for the success of this venture. Those who had to make their way through a hail of bullets and a path of mines to establish contact like the facilitator and the intelligence delegation. We must acknowledge what is clearly due to these emissaries of peace. Next, we ought to take into account the patience and fortitude and good will exhibited by the leaders of both sides and even the MTA troopers for obeying orders without a murmur."
"You've said it! Those who don't care for the country or the people are bent on destroying the peace that has been achieved. Not only is lending a helping hand in the peace process far from their thoughts, they are trying to sabotage it. Just look at what the NLD is doing. Even a child would know that their plan to convene a parliament is against the law."
"Hm, I want to say to all those who only harbour ill will and are therefore intent on obstructing peace that: 'Yes ! Our MTA was indeed involved in drug trafficking and that we committed crimes. We don't deny a thing. But today our MTA has done a great service to the country and the people with our unconditional surrender. It is more than a simple surrender. It is a gift of peace, a peace that is significant, absolute and permanent for the benefit of the people. It can even be said that with this priceless gift we have washed away our past misdeeds.' But to those persistent antagonists who with evil intent are doing all they can to wreck the peace, I wish to warn them that their crime is far greater than that of drug traff1cking and that they will go down in history as the 'destroyers of peace.' "
What my friend said is right, and giving such a warning is justified. Peace is desired by the people as a whole this priceless peace that had been so sought after and yet had remained so elusive through all these years in spite of all efforts made. There 's no denying the MTA played a significant role in the quest for peace and that peace now prevails in most parts of the country. I believe that these former MTA members and the people share the common desire to make this hard-earned peace, a permanent one. The picture is now very clear as to who really wants peace and who does not, who worked heart and soul to achieve peace and who are bent on destroying it. I am convinced that the time is now ripe for the entire Myanmar people to oppose and rid the country of these betrayers who are trying to demolish the peace so dear to them.