No end in sight to deadly Kayin State clashes
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
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