Today the Karen National Union issued an extraordinary statement detailing what appears to be a major split in their organization. The news of a split comes at a bad time for the Karen as their political organization is holding a series of high-level peace-talks with the Burmese government.
The KNU statement said, “Lt. General Mutu Say Po, together with a 30-men group, consisting of some district and brigade leaders, is intending to go to Pa-an town to meet with the Burmese [Myanmar] government and open a central level liaison office on Saturday, September 29.
Major Saw Hla Ngwe, the KNU joint secretary 1 said, “the [four] Liaison Offices opened as part of the peace-talk agreements were discussed openly with each district office and brigades, under the auspices of the executive committee.”
Major Saw Hla Ngwe said that “the Liaison Office planned for Pa-an [by General Mutu’s group] failed to discuss its opening with the KNU’s Central Headquarters.” The KNU said, as the Pa-an Liaison Office does not have its approval, it issued a public statement that it does not accept any responsibility for it.
The KNU statement said General Mutu’s trip was “not arranged by the Karen National Union (KNU) or the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the KNU Supreme Headquarters does not have any knowledge of agenda of the group.”
A senior KNLA officer told Karen News that the go-it-alone groups actions are selfish and at the best, are a “serious misunderstanding between individual office bearers. Our generals and politicians learn nothing from their history – our people deserve better.”
A Karen peace-talk observer said the divisions have been around since the initial ceasefire agreement between the KNU and the government. The observer (who did not want to be named) spoke to Karen News.
“Both sides have good reason for what they do, but they need to work together and find a common platform and work for on behalf of the Karen people. Our leaders have to be united and put aside their personal differences – the Burma government must be laughing.”
The KNU statement pointed out that all “negotiation meetings, every agreement signed by the two sides has been performed as the agreement between the Burmese government and the KNU. It is not a special, separate agreement between the KNLA and the Burmese government.”
The KNU statement notes that the “KNLA is under the administration of the Defense Department, and is one of 14 departments under the KNU.”
The KNU said that it is “firmly resolved to achieve genuine peace by resolving the political problems by political means. In order to achieve that end, the KNU has laid down a program to conduct negotiations progressively and systematically.”
At the time of writing Karen News were unable to reach General Mutu’s party for comment.