Burma: Rebels form Peace Committee to start political dialogueBy Zin Linn Nov 12, 2011 11:30PM UTC
After four days of an emergency meeting, senior leaders of the Karen National Union have shaped a seven-member ‘Peace Committee’ to take part in peace talks with the President Thein Sein government, the Karen Information Center (KIC) said on Saturday.
According to Karen News, the four-day meeting was held from November 8 to 11 and attended by members of the KNU central executive committees, central standing committees, and representatives from seven KNLA Brigades and seven Districts of the Karen State.
However, the time-frame for the peace talks between KNU and the government have not yet been set, the KNU source said. A member of the KNU who spoke to Karen News said that the KNU will abide by the decisions made at their 14th Congress in 2008 – to solve political problems by political means taking the process step-by-step.
The purpose of forming a ‘Peace Committee’ is to have a mechanism in place to be able to effectively engage and deal with issues in regard to any future peace talks, KNU sources said.
KNU has also released a statement dated 2 November appealing to the UN and democratic countries to take action for stopping offensives against Kachin and other ethnic nationalities.
According to its statement, the KNU is concerned about the Kachin and Shan peoples’ life and their security as the President Thein Sein government has been sending more troops and conducting military offensives against the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP). It also highlights human rights violations, rape of women and various atrocities committed by government’s troops. Government offensive has caused the ethnic people in the conflict zones to suffer countless miseries and the victims have faced denial of humanitarian assistance, the statement said.
The KNU’s ‘Peace Committee’ has been formed with senior KNU officials. They are KNU vice-chairman Padoh Saw David Thakabaw as chairperson, KNLA’s G.O.C General Mu Tu Sae Poe as vice chairperson, Padoh Saw David Taw as secretary, Naw Zipporah Sein (KNU general secretary), Major Roger Khin (Head of KNU Health and Welfare), Padoh Saw Ah Toe (KNU Forestry Minister) and KNU Chairman of Pa-an District Padoh Saw Aung Maw Aye.
Ahead of the current ‘Peace Committee’ creation, there were three preliminary discussions between the KNU and the Burma government’s representatives.
As reported by the Karen News, on October 10, a KNU delegation led by general secretary Naw Zipporah Sein met with central parliamentary representatives from Naypyidaw for three hours in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot.
The Burmese government’s representatives were the Railway Minister U Aung Min (retired Triangle Division Commander), Brigadier General Chit Than, Professors Dr. Tin Maung Than, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing, U Hla Maung Shwe and businessmen U Ngwe Soe, U Tony and U Ko Ko Maung and his wife, Karen News reported.
In its 2nd November statement, the KNU emphasizes that the ethnic nationalities are ready for dialogue if President U Thein Sein sincerely wants to resolve the political problems. In July this year, the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) wrote a letter on behalf of the ethnic nationalities to President U Thein Sein, urging him to hold dialogue for peace. However, there has been no response to this appeal but major offensives have been launched with increasing ferocity in the northern part of Burma.
Due to such a situation, the KNU seriously appealed to the United Nations and democratic countries of the world as follows:
(a) To pressurise the President U Thein Sein government in order to stop offensive against the Kachin and Shan people; (b) To carry out political settlement for peace together with the ethnic nationalities after ending all the Burmese offensives against the ethnic people;(c) To urge the Burmese government to allow humanitarian organizations to give assistance to the Kachin and Shan people in distress; (d) To find means and ways for protecting the security and rights of the Kachin and Shan people, and giving humanitarian assistance to them.
The KNU also said that as long as the political problems of Burma are not resolved by political means, it will be difficult to establish peace, stability and security in the country.