In an exclusive three-part interview with Karen News, the Karen National Union’s vice-chairperson, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, voiced her concerns that the government is rushing to sign a nationwide ceasefire without regard for the on-the-ground realities of ongoing armed conflict in ethnic areas or of failing to complete its obligations agreed to in previous peace talk meetings.
Naw Zipporah Sein in the interview with Karen News stressed that “the situation is not yet conducive for a nationwide ceasefire agreement. A nationwide ceasefire, we need to think about it carefully. This is one of the demands that we – the KNU and other ethnic nationalities made to the government previously.”
Naw Zipporah Sein told Karen News that the KNU has requested at its peace talks that the government should consider a nationwide ceasefire.
“We asked the government that it should announce a cessation of all military offensives against ethnic resistance forces in the whole country. But, instead, they are now asking us to sign another agreement at what they call ‘the Naypyidaw level’ – this is after we signed a state level ceasefire agreement.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said that there was an urgent need for Burma Army soldiers and camps to be removed from civilian areas.
“My view is that we have a number of things that need to be implemented and followed-up on what we agreed at the state level ceasefire agreement. This includes military affairs, especially repositioning of government frontline outposts. But the government has not done any of these yet.”
Naw Zipporah Sein pointed out that it was crucial that the peace talks needs to keep to and work to a strict agenda.
“We need to follow through what we agreed on before we can meaningfully move forward to the next step.”
Back in January 2012 when she was KNU general secretary, Naw Zipporah Sein stressed in an interview with Karen News that the much lauded agreement with Burma’s government was just the beginning of a long process.
“We signed an agreement with them [government] at the state level. This signed agreement is only that we agreed in principle. We need to have a lot more discussions about the politics involved in the detail.”
In January 2012 a KNU delegation led by the Karen National Liberation Army chief of staff, General Mutue Sae Poe (who is now the KNU’s chairperson) met with a government delegation in Hpa-an as part of the on-going peace talks process. The KNU delegation tabled 11 key points for discussion with their Burmese counterparts at the meeting.
The KNU 11 key points included – a demand for the Burma government to stop military operations in ethnic areas, start a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible, to guarantee the human rights and safety of civilians, to build trust, to plan development projects that have the full participation and decision making of local villagers, to immediately stop forced labor and to stop excessive taxation and extortion of villagers.
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