Government Uniform and Weapons Ban Upsets Karen Armed Groups

An order from the Burma Army banning Karen armed groups from wearing uniforms and carrying weapons has received a negative response from the militant groups.

The Myawaddy based Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 275, issued an order to the KloHtooBaw Karen Organization – a political wing of Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army – Peace Council (KNU/KNLA – PC) on September 14, banning the groups from wearing uniforms and carrying weapons in the city.

Both the KKO/DKBA and KNU/KNLA-PC signed ceasefire agreements with the government in 2012.

Colonel Tiger, the commander of the border security affair special tactical command of the KNU/KNLA-PC confirmed to Karen News that his group had received the orders.

“We’ve received the letter they [Burma Army] sent to us. This ban and limitation on our organization is not acceptable. Likewise, we also don’t want to see government troops wearing uniforms and carrying weapons in the cities.”

The Burma Army orders strictly forbid soldiers from the DKBA and KNU/KNLA-PC from wearing uniform and carrying weapons in cities from September 14, 2014. The letter stated that if the groups do so, they have to inform the Burma Army frontline office in Myawaddy via their respective liaison offices.

The orders also demand that the armed groups do not interfere with actions of related government departments and urge that the armed groups follow policies related to the peace building as agreed.

Major Saw Lote Lon, secretary of the KKO and a member of the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team spoke to Karen News on the issue

“We have not gone into the details regarding wearing uniform or carrying weapons when we negotiated with the government at the union level. We will raise this issue for discussion when the NCCT meet with the Union Peacemaking Working Committee scheduled for September 22.”

Major Saw Lone Lon warns that the issue should be diplomatically dealt with to avoid a confrontation that could lead to further tensions within the peace building process.

Karen News understands that counter-orders letter have been issued on September 17 by the KNU/KNLA-PC, banning government troops from wearing uniforms and carrying weapons in and out of cities in Karen State.

Several armed groups including KNU, DKBA and KNU/KNLA-PC have their liaison offices based in Myawaddy Town.

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