Karen National Army: “Excluding Northern Alliance from Peace Process, Not a Sign the Government and its Military Want Genuine Peace Building…”

The Karen National Liberation Army said by blocking Burma's northern ethnic armed organizations from attending ongoing peace talks makes it difficult to build a genuine peace.

By Sa Isue

In a statement released before the Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panglong 4th meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw from August 19 to 21, the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karen National Liberal Army (KNLA) said the government by excluding northern ethnic armed groups had deviated from building a genuine peace. The KNLA said by blocking the Northern Alliance armed groups, including the Arakhan Army (AA) – who the government labels as a terrorist group – from the ongoing peace process is contrary to an all-inclusive policy needed to build stability, trust and peace.

Major General Mahn Shar Htu Ghaw told Karen News the KNLA believe by not offering non-signatories ethnic armed groups an opportunity to attend the 21st century Panglong Conference and by excluding the AA from the peace process derailed genuine peace building in the country.

“It’s not a complete peace building without the AA and northern ethnic armed groups. On one hand we have an established ceasefire (with southern EAOs), while the other hand continues its attacks (on northern EAOs). It is very risky. By trying to solve the problem by using its military might instead of by political mean, I think they [Burma Army] don’t have any desire for genuine peace. This could also lead to damage with unity among the ethnic groups.”

The KNLA said labeling the AA as a terrorist group was a strategy meant to crush the group using military strength. The KNLA said the AA is an ethnic armed group who fight for freedom and oppose the oppression of their people.

The Minister of Home Affairs and head of the Central Committee for Counterterrorism officially announced on March 23 the Arakan Army (AA) and it’s political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA) was terrorist organizations. The Ministry said the groups had “incited fear” and disrupted the stability of the country by attacking government and civilian targets.

The government invited six members of the Northern Alliance or the Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) led by the United Wa State Army it included the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) to attend the opening ceremony of Union Peace Conference in Nay Pyi Taw. The Arakan Army, a member of the northern alliance or FPNCC was excluded.

The FPNCC refused to attend the Union Peace Conference and issued a statement on August 13 stating they were invited only to attend the opening ceremony and the government’s invitation excluded the AA.

The KNLA statement said instead of labeling the AA as terrorist group, the government and military should negotiate with the AA as quickly as possible and create an environment conducive to peace building.

The KNLA said if the military does not change their position on peace process and allow for genuine equal rights and self-determination to result from the 21st century Panglong’s Union Peace Confernce and if the Burma military continues enforcing its old strategy of “demanding ethnic armed organizations abandoned its armed struggles and enter the legal fold”, the KNLA will resume their original position – the armed struggle.

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