SHAN: More clashes before powwow

As the two sides: Naypyitaw and Loi Taileng (the main base of the Shan State Army “South”) gear up for further progress in their peace talks, 3 more clashes had already taken place, according to rebel and local sources.

The first and second clashes occurred in Loilem township and the third in Mongpan township, opposite Thailand’s Maehongson:

9 May 2012      :    At 23:40 with Kunhing-based Infantry Battalion 246 near the deserted village of Pangnim, Sanien Tract, Panglong sub-township

10 May 2012    :    16:00-17:30 at Phalai-Tawngha, Tan-ae tract, Panglong sub-township with Laikha based Infantry Battalion 64

10 May 2012    :    Mongnawng-based Infantry Battalion 286, some 180 strong at Lawng Mark Oh, north of Homong sub-township seat

According to the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), as the SSA South is officially known, the casualties are yet to be known. But sources in Mongton, opposite Chiangmai, said two on the Burma Army side were killed and an unknown number wounded. “The Burma Army is sending reinforcements to Homong (which is near the Loi Taileng base of the SSA South),” said a source.

The SSA leader Lt-Gen Yawd Serk, following the 14th clash in Mongyawng-Tachilek area against a pursuing column of the Burma Army in March, had ordered to shoot any Burma Army units caught moving outside main motor roads without prior notification.

Altogether 17 clashes have taken place between the two sides since the ceasefire agreement was signed on 2 December 2011.

“One of the topics to be discussed at the next round of talks understandably is on how best to avoid future clashes,” said a member of the SSA delegation.

The third formal meeting between the two sides is due to take place in the weekend in Shan State East capital Kengtung, 160 km north of Tachilek. Gen Soe Win, Deputy Armed Forces Chief and Army Chief, who was appointed as a vice chairman of the newly reorganized negotiating working committee, is expected to participate.

G8 Foreign Ministers statement on Myanmar (Burma)

13 April 2012 The Ministers welcomed recent positive developments in Burma/Myanmar, including the April 1 parliamentary by-election, and other significant steps the Government of Burma/Myanmar has taken toward democratic reform and national reconciliation. They underlined their readiness to assist Burma/Myanmar in advancing reforms and stressed the need for the international community to support these efforts. The Ministers praised the opportunity for all opposition parties, including the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to participate in the electoral process; progress toward preliminary ceasefires with armed ethnic groups; the release of a significant number of political prisoners; and measures to eliminate forced labor. The Ministers will consider the easing of sanctions to help this country embed reform and fully integrate into international and regional political and economic processes. At the same time, the Ministers called on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to continue reform and reconciliation efforts, and undertake the unconditional release of all remaining prisoners of conscience and the removal of legal conditions placed on those already released; further steps to end all violence in ethnic minority areas; providing unfettered international humanitarian access to conflict zones and internally displaced persons; and severing of military ties with North Korea, in accordance with Burma/Myanmar’s international obligations regarding non-proliferation.

Burma’s major Karen political parties’ join together to discuss the KNU’s peace talks

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. KIC