Karen Community Groups Accused Burma Army of Violating NCA and Displacing Villagers

A coalition of Karen community groups accused the Burma army soldiers of breaking the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and displacing thousands of villagers in Northern Karen State.

The Karen Peace Support Network, a network of 29 Karen community-based-organizations issued a statement on March 9, alleging the Burma Army violated the National Ceasefire Agreement.

The Karen Peace Support Network said the Burma Army had endangered villagers following its military maneuver’s had caused a number of armed clashes that resulted in the displacement of villagers.

Saw Way Lay, a spokesperson for the KPSN told Karen News.

“The Burma Army soldiers violated the NCA by entering territory of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) without obtaining permission. Then, they started building roads, deployed around 600 soldiers from six battalions and displaced almost 2,000 villagers.”

Saw Way Lay confirmed to Karen News that the Burma Army had broken the peace agreement. “These actions are against agreement laid down in the NCA.”

On March 8, the KNLA 5th Brigade wrote a complaint letter to the vice chairperson of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring – Union (JMC-U) level stating that the Burma army actions are against Chapter 2, Article 8 and Chapter 3, Article 5.A of the NCA. The KNLA 5th Brigade letter also stressed that such actions are creating distrust between the two sides instead of building trust.

Saw Way Lay urged the JMC-U to urgently look into the case to prevent the situation from getting worse.

“The JMC should investigate and take action promptly. The large number of soldiers deployed and the occupation of places by the Burma Army is a concern. As this could lead to further tension and displacement of local villagers. We hope leaders from both sides find ways to solve the problem by peaceful means.”

The KPSN statement explained that the recent attacks have caused the largest forced displacement of civilians in Mutraw since the Karen National Union signed a bilateral ceasefire with the Burma Army in 2012.

Saw Way Lay said that this is a concrete example why IDPs and refugees are reluctant to make a decision to voluntary return to their homeland despite talks of peace and stability in Burma.

The KPSN statement pointed out that “villagers fear their homes will be ransacked and burned; Burmese soldiers have already shot two of the villagers’ buffalo. The displaced villagers are now facing a humanitarian crisis as they are running low on food and medicine.”

Saw Way Lay said that the nearly 2,000 displaced villagers are in need of support as they have fled from their homes with little or no supplies.

“They are urgently in need of shelter, food and medicine – they can’t go back to their home until its is safe.”

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