TUESDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 2010 15:46
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army says that the understanding with the SPDC is to maintain a close working relationship that “bears fruit”; however, things are not rosy as the SPDC and the DKBA would want them to be.
“It is fruitful for us to accept the agreement of the Border Guard Force; otherwise, it is not practical for us,” said Lt Maung Win, a spokesperson for Colonel Saw Lel Pwa of DKBA No. 5 Brigade. “The relationship between the two sides is smooth as in previous years and we are implementing the plans according to the government policies on the BGF,” he added.
However, beneath the surface things are not as smooth and while the senior members of the DKBA say that the party is able to recruit the numbers required for the Border Guard Force, a source close to DKBA says that the party has had to forcefully recruit reluctant villagers.
Every Karen village must send their quota to join the DKBA or local people will be forcefully recruited into the border force from Karen State and Mon state where Karen people reside. Abbot Sumana from the Karen Buddhist Monk Organization in Kyar-inn-seikyi Township sent a request letter to the head of the DKBA asking them not to recruit young Karen people.
“They are recruiting people in all the townships, including Pha-ann, Thaton, Kaw-Kareik, and Phar-Pun using the quota system,” said a businessman close to the DKBA, who asked not to be identified. “Young people are not willing to join the DKBA for fear of fighting with the KNU, who are from the same ethnic group,” the man explained.
The DKBA is made up of the Karen Buddhists, who joined the SPDC after splitting from KNU in 1995, claiming religious discrimination by the top leaders of the extreme Christian led army. The DKBA along with the other militarily weak ethnic armed ceasefire groups, the Karenni, Kachin, and Kokang, have agreed to the SPDC’s border guard plans, while the larger groups, the UWSA, NMSP, KIO and SSA, have rejected the proposal.