Several voices from within the ethnic Karen community in Burma have urged the Karen National Union to mend its relations with the ethnic alliance United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC).
Man Aung Pyi Soe, the deputy chairman of the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party and a committee member of United Peace Party, said that if the KNU does not restore its cooperation with the ethnic bloc it will damage plans to build a federal state in Burma.
“We would like to see a reconciliation because we cannot attain federalism with Karen people alone,” he said. “All ethnic groups have to work together if we are to be successful.”
A spokesperson for the Karen Women’s Union (KWU) called on the KNU to rejoin the peace process.
“I wish to see all ethnic parties united,” said KWU’s Naw Ohn Hla. “If the KNU quits now it will break up the unity of the ethnic struggle.”
In a subsequent interview with Karen News, Naw Ohn Hla suggested that the KNU’s decision to suspend its membership “seems to be influenced by individuals, groups and personal attitudes”.
A Karen leader based in Rangoon, who asked to remain anonymous, told DVB that he believes most Karen people in the city are unhappy with the KNU leadership for walking out of the UNFC conference in Chiang Mai on 31 August.
“We are upset. It shouldn’t be like this,” he said, before echoing calls for the Karen leadership to rejoin the UNFC at ceasefire talks.
Following the KNU walk-out and its subsequent criticism of the UNFC for centralising its decision-making powers, the ethnic bloc promised to reserve two top positions in the alliance for the Karen militia if it returns to the table.
KNU secretary 1 Padoh Saw Thaw Thi Bwe told DVB on Friday that the group will decide its fate at its next committee meeting in October.