An attempt to reunify a recent division in the Karen National Union has made marked progress this week when both sides agreed to talk.
Karen people and community-based-organizations around the world were shocked to read in the media that three KNU leaders had breached the political organizations ‘peace-talks’ protocols and were negotiating independently with the Burma government.
Tension among the KNU leadership reached critical levels after the Karen National Liberation Army’s General-Officer-in-Command, General Mutu Say Poe led a-break-way-group, to negotiate and open a central level liaison office with Burma government officials in Hpa-an Town on September 29.
The move forced the KNU Central Executive Committee to issued a statement explaining that General Mutu’s go-it-alone plans did not have the approval from the KNU Supreme Head Quarters. The Karen community was dismayed and bewildered by General’s Mutu’s actions and viewed them as shortsighted and advantageous only to the Burma government.
The KNU executive committee, responded by dismissing the three leaders, General Mutu Say Poe, Padoh Saw David Taw, head of the Justice Department and Padoh Saw Roger Khin, head of the Health and Welfare Department.
Following extensive lobbying and negotiating the KNU leaders have initiated talks to try aimed at unification in order to get all sides back on the same track. KNU insiders say the recent tensions over the ceasefire agreement with the government had stimulated an almost irreparable split between the KNU leadership.
An army officer from the Karen National Liberation Army’s Brigade 7 told Karen News that it is positive that their central leaders are now contacting each other to try to find solutions to solve their problems through discussion.
The KNLA officer, who asked not to be named said.
“We’ve already been back in contact. We will try the best to solve the recent problems by meeting face-to-face and discuss the relevant issues.”
As a sign of goodwill, General Mutu Say Poe, the sacked KNLA General-Officer-in-Command, canceled a press conference, scheduled for yesterday, Saturday, October 13 and to be held at the Myawaddy KNU Liaison Office.
It is understood General Mutu Say Poe canceled the eagerly awaited event to avoid jeopardizing reunification efforts between the two sides.
Nan Phaung, a resident from Kyain Seikgyi Township in Karen State said it is critical the Karens are united at this time.
“It is a very important time as the KNU is in the process of peace talks with the government. They have to work together if they are to achieve their goal for all Karen people.”
Naw Zipporah Sein, the general secretary of the KNU, sent out a letter addressing all Karen people, that stated that the KNU will try every possible way to get the leaders back together and negotiate for the best solution.
The letter pointed out that as the KNU is the organization leading the Karen revolution that has been fighting for democracy and a federal union of Burma, it has in place principles and rules for all of its administration, including its army – the KNLA. The KNU letter stated the importance of having all of its administration following the principles and rules that have been in place for over 60 years.
A Karen resettled in Australia said that previous splits in Karen leaders have done nothing for the Karen people and have delivered only negative impacts.
“At this important time, we [Karen] really need to be united and strong. I believe that after our leaders are united they will
continue their fight for the benefit of all Karen people.”
According to sources close to the various KNU Districts and KNLA Brigades, the leadership at the district and brigade level will hold a meeting that will aim for reunification of the KNU.