KNU Refuse Military Regime’s Invitation to ‘Preliminary Peace Talks’

The Karen National Union said they will not attend ‘peace talks’ led by the military-appointed State Administrative Council (SAC) to be held at the 75th Union Day celebration on February 12, 2022.

The State Administrative Council sent its invitation to all of the Ethnic Armed Organizations, both signatories and non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, those exclude were those labelled by the military regime as terrorist organizations.

Padoh Saw Taw Nee, head of the KNU’s Foreign Affairs Department, said they would not attend the meeting that will be led by the regime’s State Administrative Council as he said previous experience had taught the KNU they would not be productive to achieving peace.

Speaking to Karen News, Padoh Saw Taw Nee explained.

“We have no reason to go and talk to them (State Administrative Council) now. We have been in talks with them for years, for example after the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. Now they’ve seized power by force. And they have broken all the promises made in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. We don’t need to go and discuss with them anymore. What we need to do now is for the [Burma] military to be in their right place and not to get involved in politics. We do not expect federal democracy from them.”

The State Administrative Council invitation letter stated the purpose of the proposed meeting was to allow for free and open discussions of any issues at the meeting without any pre-conditions set.

Currently, ASEAN countries have not allowed the coup leaders to be at their discussion table. Padoh Saw Taw Nee said those who join and attend the State Administrative Council’s meeting will be seen as supporting the military coup leaders and will be recognized as stooges of the regime.

Padoh Saw Taw Nee disagreed with the assertion in the State Administrative Council’s invitation letter that stated it was intent on carrying out peace building and serious in implementing agreements made under the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. Padoh Saw Taw Nee said the ethnic armed organizations did not trust the military regime.

“What they always do is on one hand call for a political dialogue and on the other hand, they attack our territory. They have done this many times over many decades – we have learned many lessons. We know when they say we will have a political dialogue, we know we will have to charge our weapons and get ready to pull the triggers. This is our experience.”

The State Administrative Council’s invitation letter said the future of the country will involve working on a national affairs process, a political process, a peace and sovereignty process that would begin this year.

Meanwhile, two other Karen armed groups, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army and the KNU/KNLA- Peace Council will accept the SAC’s invitation to attend the Union Peace Day celebrations but told Karen News that they would not take part in any political negotiation.

General Saw Steel, Commander-in-Chief of the DKBA confirmed his group would be sending representatives to attend the celebration.

“I will not go, but we will choose and send a representative.”

The DKBA said they have yet to select a delegation to attend the Union Day event and insisted the delegation would not be involved in political discussions.

Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt, secretary of the KNU/KNLA-Peace Council confirmed to Karen News that a delegation led by their vice chairperson, Naw Ka Paw Htoo will attend the event and said that this is nothing to do with recognition of the military junta’s power grab and it would not be making any decisions on political matters.

“Our attendance will be only for a symbol of coordination and gathering between ethnic nationalities. It will not include any political agenda,” Colonel Saw Kyaw Nyunt stressed.

A regional security analyst said the military coup leaders were past masters at dividing and splitting ethnic led resistance.

“It’s hard to believe, but militia like the DKBA and KNU/Peace Council and others are continually being seduced by the military invitations to attend grand events, even as ethnic families are being bombed out of their villages and having to live under plastic sheeting on rain swept river banks. Now is the time for the EAO’s to be united and not be divided by invitations to cheap events, if they [EAO’s] want to matter politically they have to stay united.”

All three Karen armed groups were signatories to the NCA, but after the military coup, military tensions between the Burma Army and the KNU intensified. The Burma Army launched its offensives into KNU controlled territory using airstrikes and ground attacks in response to the KNU’s stand against the military coup and killing of protesting civilians. The DKBA and KNU/KNLA-PC, have benefited by not taking a strong stand against the military coup or its appointed State Administrative Council and its deadly crackdown on its pro-democracy opposition.

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