KNU urges ces­sa­tion of Kayin State fight­ing

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­

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

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