KNLA - Battle Alert (Photo: Phil Thornton)

Karen Army Warns War is Close, if Government Troops Continue to Violate Ceasefire Agreement

The Karen National Union’s army released a statement voicing its frustration and disappointment in national peace talks with Burma’s government and its military. The KNLA accused the government of using road building as a strategy to complete its attempts to militarize Karen held territory.

“We cannot fail to see that they are not the ordinary work of building roads, but movements to annihilate us totally for the domination of the area.”

The KNLA warned if the Burma Army continues its attacks and attempts to militarize its territory it will fight back.

“We do not want war, but if the Tatmadaw [Burma Army] does not respect and abide by the code of conduct,…we will keep close watch on activities of the government Tatmadaw troops, and when it becomes totally unavoidable and battles recur, we would like the people as well as the international community to understand that it is not due to the act of the KNLA, but due to the act of the government’s Tatmadaw.”

The Karen National Liberation Army pointed out in its statement that the national peace talks had failed to deliver any tangible outcomes for Karen people.

“If we undertook a review of progress of the talks engaged in by our ranking leaders, we would find that no significant result had been achieved, apart from the ability of the people to travel freely, to some extent, and some members of the organizations could go about for a visit.”

The KNU was one of eight ethnic armed groups to sign the U Thein Sein Government’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015. The NCA signing was attended by the international community, including the US, who released statement lauding former President U Thein Sein and his government.

Despite the signing of the agreement the KNLA accuse the government’s armed forces of consistently breaking the ceasefire.

“…the KNLA, have abided by the terms of the agreement to the best of our ability, it is found that the government’s Tatmadaw (army) has not abided by the agreement terms, and it has regularly violated the agreement.”

The KNLA point to ongoing fighting with the Burma Army, that started in Mutraw (Hpapun) District in March, and have displaced thousands of Karen villagers.

The KNLA allege the Burma Army “have been preparing to begin building road forcibly with the support of massive military force, bringing with them earth moving machines, in the Brigade-5 Area of Mudraw District, without our permission. Due to those events, the local populations have become alarmed and fled to hide in the forests.”

The KNLA statement said civilians are deliberately targeted by the Burma Army.

“Villagers, who return to their villages to retrieve food and household items from their houses, are fired on by the [government] troops on sight daily, to scare them away. As a result, it has become impossible for our people to return home and engage in a livelihood. As they have become homeless people, constantly in fear and danger.”

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