KNU Offer Anti-Coup Protestors’ its Protection – Karen Civil Society Alliance Calls for Ethnic Armed Groups to Unite and Foreign Embassies Denounce Military Coup

The Karen National Union made their position clear in an official statement that they support peaceful protest in Burma against the military coup d'etat and urged for a peaceful resolution while offering protection for the people.

The KNU said on Sunday February 14, it “supports and encourages the non-violence demonstration…and will help and give protection” to the entire ethnic nationalities who protest against the military coup.

Padoh Saw Hla Tun, joint secretary of the KNU told Karen News that they will support the people in their peaceful protest and they were concerned authorities are using force against unarmed civilians.

“This causes fear for civilians, they may feel there is no one to depend on. We have said since the beginning we don’t want civil war. We will find the best solution to support the people, both on political grounds and on a humanitarian basis.”

The KNU position statement also called on security forces not to use violence against peaceful protestors and not to forcibly arrest or detain them.

The KNU also urged the international community to pressure for the release of persons arrested and “to create a forum for dialogue with the aim of achieving national reconciliation” between the Burma military and elected government whose power being ripped off on the February 1, military coup.

The KNU also highlighted ongoing conflict in their areas caused by Burma Army road construction. The road building has led to armed clashes causing displacement to thousands of Karen civilians. The KNU urged International Non-government Organizations (INGO) to set up cross- border humanitarian aid in order to access communities that are in desperate need of assistance

85 Karen civil society organizations issued a statement on February 14, calling on all Karen armed groups – the KNU, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), the KNU/KNLA – Peace Council and the Karen Border Guard Force, not to cooperate with the military coup leaders.

Saw Thuebee, a spokesperson for the civil society alliance said that their letter is a call for a united stand among Karen armed groups.

“We want all Karen armed groups to unite to protect the people. This is the time for them to work together and to work together with other ethnic alliance groups, democratic forces and the international community. This will lead to significant changes to the country’s political situation and for the establishment of self-determination.”

The Karen CSOs pointed out the “the political and democratic spaces created under the previous quasi-civilian governments have all been nullified as a result of the Tatmadaw’s (military) coup d’etat and continued breaches of the National Ceasefire Agreement. It is absolutely impossible for Ethnic Armed Revolution Organizations, ethnic political parties, NLD government, and civil society organizations to participate in the military dictator-led processes to achieve national reconciliation, peace building and the emergence of a federal democratic constitution.”

The groups stressed peace and democracy will not happen by the use of force. Any actions enabled through military dictatorship will create more conflict and division, and legitimize and prolong the military’s grip on power.

The Karen CSO groups appealed to all Karen armed groups to “cease any and all relationships that legitimize the military junta such as peace talks, political, military, and economic affairs until the pro-democracy and the ethnic nationalities’ demands are met.”

Meanwhile, diplomatic missions in Burma put out a joint statement calling on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, condemn the detention and ongoing arrests of political leaders, civil society activists, and civil servants, as well as the harassment of journalists. The joint ambassadors statement denounced the military’s interruption of communications, as well as the restriction of fundamental rights and basic legal protections and said they “stand with the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity.”

Embassies include Australia; Canada; the Delegation of the EU and European Union Member States with presence in Myanmar: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden; New Zealand; Norway; Switzerland; the United Kingdom; and the United States.

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