Can Burma Vice-President make peace with ethnic rebels?By Zin Linn Aug 28, 2013 11:31PM UTC
Vice-President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham, Head of the Union Level Peacemaking Implementation Committee, is going to meet with the Rehabilitation Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Karen National Union (KNU) in Nay Pyi Taw on August 31 for a Peace talk, Eleven Media Group reported.
The Union Level Peacemaking Implementation Committee comprises of Dr Sai Mauk Kham, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the army General Soe Win, Minister to the President’s Office Aung Min and Lower House MP Thein Zaw.
Recently on August 24, a preliminary coordination meeting was held in Rangoon between Union Minister Aung Min, the RCSS/SSA and the KNU.
“We first discussed with Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) and fixed the date of the next meeting with the vice-president. The date will be August 31. We will present the ceasefire framework for discussion,” said RCSS/SSA spokesman, Colonel Sai Hla.
The armistice agenda proposed by the Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC) contains a six-point roadmap for political dialogue, also would like to hold a nation-wide conference in respective states. It also includes holding a Panglong-style conference to allow an equal number of representatives from political parties, ethnic representatives, and government leaders to discuss founding of a “genuine union” that guarantees the rights of all ethnic peoples.
The most interesting part relies on the KNU, the toughest rebel group of the country. On January 12, 2012, the KNU delegation held a prearranged meeting with representatives of the Burmese government in Pa-an, capital of Karen State. Minister Aung Min headed the Union Government’s peace team together with Minister Soe Thein and Immigration Minister Khin Yi as members.
On April 6, 2012, a Burmese government peace-making team headed by Railways Minister Aung Min and the Karen National Union’s peace delegation led by then Secretary Zipporah Sein held talks at the Sedona Hotel in Rangoon. Railways Minister Aung Min, head of Burmese government peace delegation, offered a dinner for the KNU representatives at the Sedona Hotel on 6 April. Before dinner, railways minister Aung Min and the KNU’s secretary Naw Zipporah Sein explained their political position on the peace talk’s procedure and urged all people to work together for peace.
The two sides agreed to work step-by-step for a nationwide cease-fire and to end conflict in ethnic areas. Both sides also agreed to undertake people’s safety including resettlement of thousands of refugees displaced by armed conflicts in the Karen state, and also to cooperate on removal of landmines.
On 21 September, 2012, the Karen National Union (KNU) released a statement calling for “tri-partite dialogue so that all ethnic and political groups can be represented and a consensus can be reached and provide a stable foundation for genuine peace and democracy in our country.”
KNU also call for immediately halt all military operations in Kachin State on the International Day of Peace. KNU’s statement intensely said that to establish a genuine and permanent peace government must have willingness allowing all sides to enter into political dialogue to address the root causes on conflict, and resolve it in political means.
On the 63rd Anniversary of Karen People Martyrs’ Day on 12 August, KNU President Gen. Mutu Say Po delivered a message to people. At one stage, the message says, “ The political stand of the KNU is that, as movement of the Karen people is political, it must be resolved politically. The aim of establishment of armed organizations by the KNU is not to fight the enemy for victory and seize the State power. The aim is to protect the organization and the people, to be able to resolve the political problems harmoniously, to achieve equality and self-determination for the Karen people and all the other ethnic nationalities, to establish a federal union based on democracy. As the KNU accepts the resolution of Karen political problem through political dialogue and negotiation as the most correct way, whenever the condition allows, the KNU has to establish peace with the regimes in power and resolve the Karen political problem politically through dialogue.”
To date, some serious questions between government and the KNU are still unresolved. For instance, the systematic relocations of the Burma Army troops from Karen State and other conflict ridden Karen areas are unanswered. Besides, the Code of Conduct, which was drafted by the KNU and submitted to the government to negotiate, is still up in the air.
Karen National Union (KNU) or Karen rebellion has its beginning since the Second World War, when many Karen fought alongside the British Army against the invading Japanese. The Karen populace was guaranteed to have autonomy by the British but when independence gained in 1948 the promise was disappeared. Afterward, in January 1949, the Karen initiated the armed struggle with the intention of self-determination ever since.