KNU Calls for Tripartite Talks

The Karen National Union (KNU) has called on international bodies to pressure the Burmese military government for tripartite talks on political and ethnic military conflicts in Burma.

The move comes as ongoing attacks have been launched by the joint forces of the Burmese army and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a ceasefire group, against the KNU. We, the KNU, earnestly urge the United Nations, the international communities, the regional and neighboring countries to concertedly pressure the SPDC for immediate acceptance of [a] tripartite dialogue process, for resolving the political and military conflicts in the country,” said a KNU statement released on Monday.

Since early June, following attacks against Brigade 7 of the KNU military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), about 4,000 Karen villagers have sought safety in Thailand, while experiencing insufficient food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Some relief workers estimated the number of Karen refugees has now reached 6,000 people.

On Monday, a Thai army commander, Lt-Gen Thanongsak Aphirakyothin, said that a total of 1,741 Karen have entered Thailand from eastern Burma since fighting started in early June, according to Reuters. The unit of Thanongsak operates along Thailand’s western border.

“They fled because of danger and fear of capture and forced labor by the Myanmar army, the commander told reporters in Mae Sot. “Most of the refugees are women and children.”

Karen sources claim that about 20 soldiers from the joint force have been killed during recent clashes. The number of KNU soldiers dead or injured was not given.

The statement said the attacks against Karen villagers were an attempt to eliminate the Karen people.

The Burmese regime’s recent order to the DKBA, an armed group that separated from the KNU, to transform its troops into a border guard force under the ministry of defense turns the DKBA into the regime’s “slaves,” the statement said.

Instead of serving the Burmese regime, the DKBA should listen to the voice of the Karen people and protect them, said the KNU.

“Accordingly, we earnestly urge all concerned to study the entire condition and actively work for [the] prevention of [the] elimination of the Karen, as a people, and uniting the entire Karen people under the flag of Karen revolution,” said the statement.

The KNU urged the DKBA to assume the position of ethnic ceasefire groups in northern Burma, such as the United Wa State Army and Kokang group, also known as Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, which are bonding with the local population to take an independent role in opposition to the regime.

“We would like to tell the DKBA that it is time for it to consider its aims and the actual conditions objectively, to listen to the voice of the Karen people and to stand for the Karen people’s interest,” said the statement.

By working with the Burmese military government, the DKBA is helping to legalize the military dictatorship through its general election in 2010 and its attempt to eliminate all ceasefire groups, said the KNU.

Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese analyst in Thailand, said the current offensive is also a part of a process to convince all armed ethnic groups to transfer their troops into a border guard force that would serve under the Burmese military.

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