In what many international observers say is a first, Karen politicians belonging to Burma’s mainstream political parties held a meeting to discuss the Karen National Union’s and the government’s ongoing peace talks.
Members of the Kayin People’s Party, Karen State Democracy and Development Party, Plone-Swor Democratic Party, Kayin Democratic Party met with Karen party members from the National League for Democracy and the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
The meeting was held at the Roman Catholic Church in Moulmein, Mon State on March 24, to discuss how the politicians from the different parties could take part in the Karen peace process and meet with legally with the KNU in accordance to government guidelines.
The Vice Chairman of the KPP, Saw Say Wah Nyunt, told Karen News.
“We discussed if it was possible to meet with the KNU. If the KNU is willing to meet with us, we plan to join with them to discuss many issues. But before that is possible the KNU may need to request permission from the government to meet with us.”
Saw Say Wah Nyunt speaking to Karen News said that he supports the KNU peace activities, as he believes the KNU is trying to build peace for the country as well as the Karen.
A large group of Karen politicians attended the meeting. They included Dr.Saw Symon Thar, vice chairman of KPP, Saw Say Wah Nyunt, the vice chairman of KPP and KPP executive committee members. Saw Kyaw Than Oo, the chairman of KDP attended with his executive committee members. Saw Mya Than, the secretary of KSDDP and his executive committee members, Saw Mya Tun, vice chairman and Sa Bi Kyin Oo, the secretary of the PDSP attended with their executive committee members.
Nann Khin Htwe Myint, chairwoman of Karen State and an executive committee member Saw Tin Win represented the NLD. Saw Marvel (a retired army colonel), a USDP member and Saw Myo Thein from KPF were part of the 30 Karen politicians who attended the meeting.
KNU vice-chairman David Tharc Kabaw said his organization welcomed the involvement of all Karen groups.
“We want to meet with them [Karen parties] including the Karen Peace Committee. But we need to first discuss with the government our travel arrangements. We will meet with any Karen groups. We are working for the whole of the Karen nationalities, not about only those living in Karen State.”
The KNU has been struggling for equal rights and self-determination since January 31, 1949 and has been fighting against various Burma military regimes that have dominated Burma over the last 60-years. On January 12th this year was the first time; the KNU had signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with government representatives.
Last week in goodwill gesture the Burma Government peace talk delegation leader, Railways Minister, Aung Min, handed the just-released from a life sentence, Karen leader Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung to his political organization, the KNU. While in the Thai border town of Mae Sot the two sides took the opportunity to discuss arrangements for the second round of peace talks, believed to be held in early April.
Karen News understands the KNU delegation will leave from the Thai-Burma border to travel to Yangon on April 4th and plans to meet with the various Karen political parties, Karen organizations, and religious leaders.