In a part two of an exclusive interview with Karen News, the Karen National Union’s vice-chairperson, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, explains why it is crucial that a code-of-conduct for the Burma Army and the Karen Army is needed.
Naw Zipporah Sein urged that a code-of-conduct has to be signed before the peace talks can move to the next stage.
“One of the key points we agreed to previously was to establish a code-of-conduct for troops from both sides during the ceasefire period. But they [government] have not done that yet. I think it is untimely to move to the next level without following through on the points we agreed before.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said that the Burma Army’s presence in villages and civilian areas threatened Karen villagers and promoted fear.
“For example, we said government frontline outposts in the KNU areas – within our districts and brigades – need to be repositioned back to their bases as part of trust building measure. We are not even talking about their permanent bases yet. We wanted to start with their frontline posts, so we can build trust between the two sides.Most of the frontline posts that we talked about are very close to Karen villages and their agricultural fields, their worship places.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said that the KNU’s position on the issue has been clear from the beginning of the peace talks and now the government has to do its part.
“We have sent our proposal in detail, including our proposed code-of-conduct, to the government negotiation team since September 2012. We don’t see that the government has done anything on that yet. We need to get that done in order for the preliminary ceasefire to become durable.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said it is important that both sides establish a code-of-conduct that soldiers from both sides follow.
“We took the time to write it, and then we sent it to the government. The KNU took seriously and prepared the proposed code-of-conduct, but we are unable to implement it yet, because the government has not done anything to finalize it.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said that the government needed to focus on the peace talks agenda.
“In my opinion, the government is not yet ready for the next step. Our technical team went to meet them in June to talk about our proposed code of conduct, but they said they are still working on their own version. They have not yet completed the version they were working on. They said they would give us their counterproposal when they are done. They have not done that yet.”
Naw Zipporah Sein said the government had not finalized its contribution to the code-of-conduct.
“When our General Secretary met with Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in August, the Commander-in-Chief indicated that they have not yet completed their version, and that he asked General Thet Naing Win to draft one but it was not yet done. It is quite obvious that the government is not ready to move to the next level within the ceasefire process.”