No end in sight to deadly Kayin State clashes

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

DEADLY clashes are con­tin­u­ing to flare in Hpapun town­ship, Kayin State, three weeks af­ter fight­ing first broke out. Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween armed fac­tions last week ap­pear to have failed to staunch the fight­ing.

The Tat­madaw and an aligned Bor­der Guard Force have been en­gaged in hos­til­i­ties against a splin­ter fac­tion of the Demo­cratic Karen Benev­o­lent Army (DKBA) since Au­gust 28.

Ac­cord­ing to the DKBA splin­ter group, seven of their troops have been wounded and sev­eral sol­diers from the BGF and the Tat­madaw have been also killed or badly wounded.

“Fight­ing is hap­pen­ing ev­ery day. We don’t want to con­tinue fight­ing, which was started due to personal prob­lems be­tween us and the BGF. We are very sorry for the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” U Kyaw Kyaw, a peace ne­go­tia­tor for the DKBA, said yes­ter­day.

“We are still try­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the gov­ern­ment’s peace process. We don’t want to fight in the fu­ture,” he

DKBA peace ne­go­tia­tor

added.

The KNU, the political wing of the Karen Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army (KNLA), one of eight sig­na­to­ries to last year’s cease­fire agree­ment, said last week that the re­newed clashes in Kayin State could un­der­mine the public’s faith in the peace process.

Fight­ing has es­ca­lated since the Au­gust 30 death of Ma­jor Na Ma Kyar, the late leader of the DKBA splin­ter group.

“Our leader Colonel Saw San Aung was also wounded dur­ing fight­ing,” said U Kyaw Kyaw.

Padoh Thaw Thwe Bwe, joint gen­eral sec­re­tary of the KNU, said the fight­ing is be­ing mon­i­tored and the chair of the Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Peace Cen­ter has been in­formed, but has not yet re­sponded.

Thou­sands of civil­ians driven from their homes in the Mae Tha Wor area have taken refuge at a monastery in Hlaingbwe town­ship. Others re­port­edly crossed the bor­der into Thai­land.

Ac­cord­ing to vol­un­teer aid work­ers, the num­ber of dis­placed has grown to nearly 3800 vil­lagers.

The fam­i­lies are too afraid to re­turn home, and with good rea­son. A vil­lage ad­min­is­tra­tor was killed in a land­mine blast on Septem­ber 16, ac­cord­ing to the vol­un­teers.

“We are con­cerned that the fight­ing will con­tinue for a long time and the vil­lagers will face many prob­lems,” said Ko Myint Aung, a vol­un­teer aid worker.

In 1994, the DKBA formed as a Bud­dhist fac­tional splin­ter from the pre­dom­i­nantly Chris­tian-led KNLA, call­ing them­selves the Demo­cratic Karen Bud­dhist Army. The name was later changed to the Demo­cratic Karen Benev­o­lent Army.

‘Fight­ing is hap­pen­ing ev­ery day. We don’t want to con­tinue the fight­ing.’

U Kyaw Kyaw

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