A position statement from the Karen National Union strongly stressed that today’s peace talks in Pa-an Town with the Burma government are just a first step. The KNU statement said.
“These talks are being initiated as preliminary discussions towards a ceasefire agreement, which would be a first step towards solving the longstanding political conflict between the ethnic nationalities and the Burmese government.”
The KNU, vice chairman, Saw David Tharc Kabaw, explained to Karen News his concerns about the talks.
“I’m cautious, very cautious, there is no certainty, we’re still not sure of the real agenda. We hear the [Burma] President has good intentions towards moving the country to democracy, but the indicators we have say something different, especially the military offensive against Kachin civilians.”
Saw David Thrac Kabaw warned that the reforms in Burma have delivered little for ethnic people or the government’s political opposition.
“The changes so far have been only cosmetic; they failed to deliver on their promise to release all political prisoners. By keeping political prisoners locked up, they are removing key political opponents who have for years struggled for democracy. There is no rule of law.”
The KNU position statement said that a 19-member delegation, led by General Mutu Sae Poe and Padoh David Taw under the supervision of the KNU Committee for Emergence of Peace, would begin talks in Pa-an Town with representatives of the Burmese government.
Saw David Thrac Kabaw told Karen News that knowing what the Burma government’s ‘real agenda’ was is difficult to understand.
“Our past experience has been that the real power always lies in the hands of the ‘military hardliners’ and the in the past they have not hesitated to use guns against ethnic people. The [Burma Army] offensive against the Kachin is very brutal. The Burma Army has moved almost two thirds of its soldiers there.”
The KNU’s Saw David Thrac Kabaw said the fact the Burma Army is attacking the Kachin now and talking peace to the other ethnic groups such as the Karen have made him suspicious of what the Burma government’s real objective is.
“It could be a strategy of ‘good cop bad cop’, we witness this before in 2004 when General Khin Nyunt made all sorts of promises to ethnic groups only to find himself locked up and under a lifetime of house arrest.”
Saw David Thrac Kabaw said the KNU stood strong behind the Kachin people.
“We regard all [Burmese] ethnic people as our allies; they have suffered just as the Karen has. The ethnic alliance is still strong despite the rumors being spread by the government, mischief makers and black propaganda – we still believe ethnic unity is strength.”
The KNU position statement reinforced the organizations commitment to a genuine peace process.
“The KNU believes that in order to achieve genuine peace and an end to the civil war in Burma, the underlying political conflict must be solved by political means, beginning with earnest dialogue. The KNU is committed to this process for the wellbeing of the Karen people and the people of all of Burma.