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KNU: Burma Army Militarization Forces Karen to Flee Villages – Government Used National Ceasefire Agreement to Increase its Troops in Brigades 5 and 7

The Karen National Union claims increased Burma Army operations into its controlled territories in Northern Karen State have forced civilians out of their villages.

The KNU statement issued on May 15 by the Karen National Liberation Army Headquarter said the Burma Army operations increased in the border areas of its Brigade 5 and 7 during April and May, 2020.

The KNLA statement said 150 Burma Army soldiers and 20 from its militia, the Border Guard Force (BGF) had been newly deployed in territory of the Karen National Union at Thoo Mwee Htar, Gaw Kaw Htar, Mae Pa and Kasaw Wah lay (White Elephant Mountain).

Villagers scared by the Burma Army new deployment and operations in the area fled. The KNU estimated that 10 households with 47 peoples from Let Ka Baw village, 19 households with 125 people from Kay Kee Tu village and 11 households with 66 peoples from Hee Poe Thaw Kee village – a total of 40 households with as many as 138 peoples fled their homes.

The KNLA statement claimed the Burma Army took advantage of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) by doubling the number of its troops in Karen State.

On May 9, the Office of the Commender-in-Chief of Defense Services announced a nationwide ceasefire to emphasize its COVID-19 prevention and as a lasting peace in the country in accordance with international standards.

After the Burma Army’s three months ceasefire declaration, Karen villagers said fighting in Brigade (5) was happening on a daily basis.

Under the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed between the Karen National Union and the Burmese Government in January 2012, states in Chapter (3) section (5.a) and (5.c) that in ceasefire areas, activities such as troop movements for territorial control, recruitment, armed attacks, launching of military offensives are to be ceased and troop movements may be undertaken only in consultation between the two parties.

Karen News was unable to get a response from a Burma Army spokesperson on claims about increased troop deployments and incursions into KNU controlled territory.

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