The Karen National Union claim move by the Burma Army to force Karen villagers to attend militia training will damage trust between the two sides during ongoing ‘peacetalks’.
The KNU alleges that the Burma Army has ordered Karen villagers in Southern Burma to attend military training and then intends to supply them with weapons.
According to a KNU’s Mergui-Tavoy District source, on 15 November, the Burma Army Coastal Region Military Command ordered their troops in the east of Tenasserim division to demand villagers from Kwe Waw Wah (Aing Wai), Kasawwah, Ah Moe, Ka Maw Haw, Wah Daw, Ka Tara Kee, Htee Hta, Maw Hta, Htee Kee and Alesto to attend militia training, beginning in early 2013.
The KNU source said civilians who complete the training will serve as a village security force under the control of the Burma Army.
A KNU’s officer in Ka Ta Ra Hkee, (who requested not to be named) confirm the Burma Army orders to Karen News.
“We are aware the Burma Army has ordered villagers to attend militia training, but there has not been an official order or summons meeting with the village headman in Ka Tara Hkee yet.”
These nominated villages are situated in the cease-fire area between the KNU and government soldiers.
P’doh Saw Thaw Thi Pay from the KNU’ Mergui-Tavoy District told Karen News.
“This is the time we should be building peace and trust, it is too soon for the (government) to start military activities. It is an additional burden on villagers if they have to serve in a militia – it is hard enough feeding and supporting families now, but working in the peoples’ militia will make it harder.”
Brigadier General Saw Dah Kyaw Lu, the commander of the KNU’s Brigade 4 spoke to Karen News.
“We will raise this issue with the [Burma government] when we met with them. Now is not the time to start military activities. It is not appropriate.”