Representatives from the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karen Unity and Peace Committee (KUPC)—an assorted group of Karen MPs, civil society members and Karen armed groups—held a closed-door meeting with Burmese government officials on Saturday in Taungoo to discuss ways of bringing about unity and peace for the Karen people.
The meeting was attended by: members of the KNU central committee including Mahn Nyein Maung; Karen ethnic affairs ministers from various administrative regions in Burma; members of the Karen People’s Party, including the party’s deputy chairman; and Karen ethnic MPs.
KNU central committee member Saw Hla Tun said that the parties had reached an agreement on several issues by the end of the meeting, including a call by the Karen representatives for greater cooperation in bringing about unity and peace for the Karen people. The Karen attendees also reportedly agreed with the government on the need to end armed conflict and practice patience. Finally, Karen MPs agreed to make endeavours to ensure that basic human rights of Karen people are protected and Karen youths enjoy a bright future.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army’s (DKBA) 5th Battalion—the only DKBA unit that refused to be absorbed into the government’s Border Guard Force, and which subsequently re-branded itself as the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (also known as DKBA)—is expected to meet with government counterparts on Monday to negotiate the return of firearms the group seized from Burmese troops during a series of skirmishes last week.
Maj. San Aung from the breakaway Karen faction said last week’s gunfire “did not a signal a breakdown of the peace process; rather, it was designed to let the country and the world know about the oppression taking place at ground level in Karen State.”
Reporting by DVB