KNU Push Govt For Nationwide Ceasefire – Karen Community Wants Results

The Karen National Union met last week with Burma government officials in Rangoon and Nay Pyi Daw to try to give its ceasefire arrangements and peace talks a higher priority ranking.

A KNU nine-member delegation led by its chairman, General Mutu Say Poe left for Burma on September 26 to meet with both the government’s senior administrators and its military leaders.

The KNU general secretary, Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win, told Karen News that it discussed a nationwide ceasefire.

“The KNU has a plan to meet with the government’s Peace Working Committee and its top military leader. We want to work on plan regarding a nationwide ceasefire.”

The KNU delegations visited Rangoon and Nay Pyi Taw and met with General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces and officials from Myanmar Peace Committee.

The KNU’s chairman General Mutu Say Poe led a delegation that included its general secretary, Padoh Kwe Htoo Win, the KNLA’s Chief-of-Staff General Saw Johnny, Lieutenant General Saw Issac, Padoh Saw Tar Doh Moo, and Padoh Saw Shwe Maung.

KNU sources said the Karen political organisation would discuss the results of its meeting internally before going public.

Many Karen community groups and villagers are concerned that after two years of ‘informal discussions’ between the KNU and the government there does not appear any official urgency or timetable to put in place the 11 key points that the KNU tabled back in January 2012.

The KNU 11 key points include – a demand for the Burma government to stop military operations in ethnic areas, start a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible, to guarantee the human rights and safety of civilians, to build trust, to plan development projects that have the full participation and decision making of local villagers, to immediately stop forced labor and to stop excessive taxation and extortion of villagers.

At its January 2012 peace-talk meeting the KNU demanded the Burma government release all political prisoners, provide solutions to settle land right issues, to set out principles for a genuine peace process, to open a liaison office for peace talks, to allow unrestricted unarmed travel and movement in Karen State and to draw clear lines of controlled territory.

Many Karen villagers have told Karen News that they would like to have the issue of their access to national Identity Cards put on the agenda. Saw Win Htoo told Karen News that without having an official ID card it is hard to feel secure.

“If we don’t have official ID cards it is hard to own land, vote in national elections, move around the country, go to high school or university or to get a passport to leave to go another country. Our leaders should be fighting for our rights as citizens before discussing development projects.”

A source close to the KNU said that the talks may be moving too slow for some people, “we have no choice we have to be at the table if we want to have peace. We do not want more fighting, we have to keep negotiating.”

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