KNU urges cessation of Kayin State fighting
The Karen National Union has demanded an end to recent conflicts in Kayin State pitting the Tatmadaw and an aligned Border Guard Force against a Democratic Karen Benevolent Army splinter group.
THE powerful Karen National Union (KNU) has called for a cessation of hostilities between the Tatmadaw, a Border Guard Force (BGF) group and a splinter faction of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), following recent clashes in the Mae Tha Wor area of Kayin State’s Hpapun township.
The KNU, the political wing of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), said yesterday that the uptick in troop movements and clashes pitting the Tatmadaw and an aligned BGF against the DKBA faction were a cause for concern, and could undermine the public’s faith in the peace process. The two sides have been fighting since August 28.
KNU joint secretary Padoh Thaw The Bwe said his organisation had implored the government to resolve renewed conflict in areas under Tatmadaw and BGF control, but that this had not yet been addressed.
“Mae Tha Wor is an area under our control,” he said, explaining that he was concerned that locals might mistake the skirmishes for KNLA activity. “Therefore, we object and urge a stop to the fighting.”
Clashes are continuing in the Mae Tha Wor area, with upward of 3400 residents of Hlaingbwe township having fled and taken refuge at the Mying Gyi Ngu monastery. They are reliant on government and public donations for support.
U Saw Lin, who is close to the abbot of Mying Gyi Ngu monastery, U Thuzana, said the sayadaw was engaged in negotiations between the three armed groups yesterday. Despite commanding immense respect from the warring DKBA and BGF factions, U Thuzana’s intervention has apparently not yet yielded a result.
“The sayadaw negotiated to reduce tensions between [the] armed groups, but I haven’t yet heard that the fighting is stopped,” U Saw Lin said.
KNU joint secretary
U Thuzana is a prominent Buddhist monk in Kayin State. He supported the 1994 decision to form the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, the Buddhist factional splinter from the predominantly Christian-led KNU. The DKBA later changed its name to the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.
Since 1992, U Thuzana has been pushing the construction of pagodas in Kayin State. Attempts to build one at the former KNU headquarters of Manerplaw failed, after the KNU leadership determined any such undertaking would likely become the target of government airstrikes.
More recently, U Thuzana has inflamed religious tensions in the state. Earlier this year, he ordered his followers to build pagodas in the compounds of Muslim and Christian places of worship.
State Minister for Social Affairs U Min Tin Win told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the state government was monitoring the flow of displaced civilians, and that there would be an increased security presence in Hlaingbwe township.
“We have [communicated] with the state government since the fighting started. We also sent medical teams for the refugees,” he said, adding that private donations were currently meeting the requirements of those displaced.
The late leader of a DKBA splinter group, Major Na Ma Kyar, was killed on August 30.
‘Mae Tha Wor is an area under our control. Therefore we object and urge a stop to the fighting.’
Padoh Thaw The Bwe