A Karen National Union (KNU) peace delegation will meet Burmese MP-elect Aung San Suu Kyi for the very first time in Rangoon on Friday, according local sources.
A KNU statement released on Wednesday said that the group will talk with representatives from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and other Karen civil society organizations and political parties in the former capital.
“The purpose of these meetings is to engage all levels of society in the process of achieving peace in a nation that has been in armed conflict for several decades,” said the statement.
The KNU delegation arrived the Karen State capital Pa-an at around 2 pm on Wednesday before meeting Naypyidaw representatives headed by Railways Minister Aung Min, the government’s chief peace negotiator.
Five points main points will be focused on during the talks—continued ceasefire arrangements, progress on realizing a nationwide ceasefire, guaranteed safety for civilian populations, trust building at all levels and protection of human rights in Karen State, according to the statement
Zipporah Sein, the general secretary of the KNU, is leading the negotiation party which will meet with state-level representatives in Pa-an and then the Union Government in Rangoon on Friday.
Both sides plan to visit sites where Karen villagers have been suffering human rights abuses due to fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army, the KNU’s military wing, and government troops. Such places include Dawei (Tavoy), in Tenasserim Division, as well as Kyaukkyi and Mu Theh, in Pegu Division.
A humanitarian assistance office will be opened and observers will meet local people who have been affected by the decades-old conflict.
The KNU signed the ceasefire agreement on Jan. 12 in Pa-an, but human right abuses continue to be perpetrated in Karen State where thousands of people live in jungle camps after fleeing clashes by their homes.
The KNU was founded in 1947 and has been battling the Burmese government for greater autonomy for more than six decades, making it the nation’s longest running ethnic militia.