The Australian Karen Organisation wrote to Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop to ask her to use her position to pressure Burma’s government and its Army to immediately withdraw its soldiers from ethnic regions.
The AKO explained in its letter to Ms Bishop, that “despite the efforts of the International Community to endorse genuine peace, the Burmese Military have increased their attacks on various ethnic groups, including the Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, failing to uphold the ceasefire principles in the Karen State in particular.”
In early March 2018, the Burma Army launched a military offensive in Mutraw (Hpapun) District, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)’s 5th Brigade, in the Ler Mu Plaw area.
The AKO pointed out to Ms Bishop that the Burma Army was in serious breach of its Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed in October 2015.
“This has caused an outbreak of fighting between the KNLA and the Burmese Army as the Burmese Army breached the Nation-wide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) by moving troops across agreed ceasefire boundaries. As grave human rights violations continue, the United Nations has estimated that a further 6,800 persons have become internally displaced since March this year.”
Saw Lwin Oo the National President of the Australian Karen Organization told Karen News from Sydney that AKO’s main concerns are that there is a “lack of progress in the current peace process and a lack of transparency. Saw Lwin oo urged that a “code-of-conduct must be discussed before any political discussions, for example, moving from a preliminary ceasefire to a durable ceasefire, then political discussions to find political solutions.”
Saw Lwin was adamant that Aung San Suu Kyi should not work on the NCA because the NCA was rejected by both the Laiza and Law Khee Lar ethnic conference. The NCA must be equal for both ethnic armed groups and for the Burma military then we can have equal talks.”
Saw Lwin Oo called on the international community to ensure “refugees and IDPs must have rights to return to their homes in safety and with dignity when and until genuine peace through Burma is achieved.”
The AKO letter informed Ms Bishop that “despite the efforts of the International Community to endorse genuine peace, the Burmese Military have increased their attacks on various ethnic groups, including the Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, failing to uphold the ceasefire principles in the Karen State in particular.”
The AKO letter pointed to a statement issued by the Kachin Worldwide Organisations’ on 23 April 2018, that “asserts that the International Community is too weak to enforce international law and hold the Burmese Army accountable for their crimes. Such crimes have been documented by local organisations as countless killings, acts of torture, arbitrary arrests, forced labour, and injury by shelling.”
Saw Lwin Oo explained to Karen News the Australian Karen Organisation is an umbrella organization for the Karen people in Australia and “represents them, voices their concerns in all political, social, cultural and economic matters.”
Saw Lwin Oo said the AKO “supported Karen National Union in political, moral and diplomatic areas. The AKO works with the Karen community-based-organizations in Burma and on the border. The AKO and other international Karen Organizations raise funds for Etu Hta [displaced people’s camp] and Mutraw displaced people and for other needs in crisis areas.”