The recent first-round of ‘peace talks’ between the Karen National Union and the Burma government in Pa-an on 12th January raised a lot of expectations within the international community, the Burmese community and among Karen people living inside Burma and those living overseas. In a series of interviews, Karen people shared with Karen News their opinion, their hopes and thoughts on the prospect for reaching a lasting peace with the Burma government.
Saw K’Neh Me – Melbourne, Australia
“We read in the media that the KNU signed a ceasefire, but I know the central headquarters did not give them [KNU delegation] a mandate to do that. The KNU are meeting to start the dialogue and then return and discussed all the issues and topics brought up at the meeting. Just at this standard. If we had signed an agreement at the first round of meetings it would not have been a good image while the Kachins are struggling against the Burma Army – it is degrading and undignified. The international community does not know about the past dialogues we have held with the Burma military. But now the international community and United Nations are shouting support for the issues of the ethnic people, so the government has agreed on an approach and have requested ceasefire agreements. The standard of dialogue between General Khin Nyung and General Saw Bo Mya was much higher than this one. At a time when the Kachin people are facing huge problems with villagers being displaced by the Burma Army, the country’s President has not done enough to stop the militarisation. The president, the army and (retired) General Than Swhe are just the same – all beans in the same basket. There are more higher-ranked government ministers than the Railway’s Minister – why is he representing the President and running the meeting with the KNU? If the government is serious about a genuine peace there are other more senior cabinet members who should have been involved. In my opinion this is the lowest standard of meeting. We should be treated better.”
Daw Nan Khin Htway Myint- Hpa-an, Karen State, Burma
“The KNU dialogue with the government was started by an approach by the P’low-Sqaw Party in Karen State. Minister at the federal level will have to implement the peace process. We have discussed five points at the state level and an eleven points at the union (federal) state level. If we put them together that is 16 points. This is wonderful. For those of us who live in this land and in Karen State it will make us the happiest people.
A ceasefire is good news for those people who have had to live in a war torn area, who have had to run from the fighting and conflict for more than 60-years. I don’t know exactly and cannot make a decision about whether the process will be a true or false agreement. We have to wait and see. But they are saying there will be peace and if it that happens it will be wonderful.
If Karen State is peaceful, we then turn to developing our homeland. The most important thing before bringing in development is that we need to clean up the land mines. People in Karen State, in the villages, especially those who live in the war zone, are facing problems of land mines. There has to be plan to tackle this.”
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