A Karen National Union (KNU) delegation led by its Vice Chairperson Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein made a historic political tour to Karen communities in the Irrawaddy Delta in early May.
The 21-member delegation team included members of KNU’s Central Executive Committee Padoh Saw Thamein Tun, Padoh Saw Myat Maung, Padoh Saw Hla Tun, Padoh Saw Liston and Padoh Saw Neh Htoo with Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein as the team leader.
It was the first official political visit by the KNU in decades. The KNU delegation team met with Karen communities in Irrawaddy Divisions townships to consult with Karen communities on its peace process with the Burma government.
Ceasefire for all
In the meeting at Pantanaw Township, the KNU vice chairperson, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein, told the public. “We have been working hard for a nationwide ceasefire for all ethnic armed organizations with the central government. We have not yet reached to an agreement. We still need to continue the discussion in order to reach the agreements and guarantees of political [solution].”
Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein said at the meeting that currently fighting is continuing in the northern part of the country although there is no armed conflict within the Karen State. She said that the peace process is not only for Karen state and they [KNU] will continue discussions until a ceasefire agreement is achieved. The KNU’s vice chairperson said that to achieve a genuine peace, the only way is for all ethnic armed groups to participate and collaborate together to achieve the ultimate goal.
In the meeting at Ohn Chaung village in Shwe Thaung Yan Sub-township Padoh Naw Zipproah Sein told the attending audience that ceasefire need rules and conditions and emphasized that despite the ceasefire the Burma Army was still intent on solidifying its military superiority in Karen State.
“During the peace process in the country, the two sides (KNU and government) need to [strictly] follow a ceasefire Code-of-Conduct. As we are in dialogue with the central government, the military have been reinforcing its troops and positions. The civilians are still being forcibly relocated and fleeing from their native places.”
Everyone’s counts in a nation’s peace building
Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein repeatedly reminded the Karen communities that the peace process is still at the stage of trying to reach a concrete ceasefire agreement and more discussions need to take place until a guaranteed political solution is reach.
At the meeting held at Pu Saw Bu School in Myaungmya, Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein called for everyone to take part and support the peace process.
“I believe that building peace cannot be done by a group or an organization on its own, it is important that everyone needs to understand [the process] and they have their hand and brain on it in order to make it successful. I would like to urge everyone to give their suggestions regarding the peace building process.”
For many Karen people in the Irawaddy Delta, this was the first time they had the chance to see and listen to the KNU.
Padoh Naw Zipporrah Sein received a warm welcome by the community and its leaders.
Naw Eh Tha Lay Paw from Ohn Chaung village who went to the meeting at her village spoke to Karen News and said.
“We had only seen Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein in the media and we pay respect to her as she is one of the women leaders. We are glad to have the opportunity to see her in person. In addition, we are very satisfied to learn about the situation of the peace process as she explained to us.”
Mahn Myint Sein, from A Su Gyi Village in Kyaungone Township who was at the meeting held at Karen Literature and Culture Museum in Pantanaw Township said.
“We are delighted to see the KNU leaders have come to see the Karen people in the Irrawaddy division. For our part, we will try to do our best regarding our national affairs. We are still looking forward to see the KNU cooperates with the public even after the peace building is a success.”
Dr. Mahn Khin Maung Soe, vice chairperson of the Pantanaw Karen Literature and Culture Committee said.
“It is good that the KNU came to see us. They will now hear the voices of people here and understand what they want.”
The KNU delegation team led by Padoh Naw Zipporah Sein returned to Rangoon where held public meetings with Karen communities in the Rangoon Division, Pegu Division before returning to Karen State.