‘We Don’t Accept the Military Council:’ Karen Guerrilla Spokesman

By The Irrawaddy 28 April 2021

Brigade 5 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), seized a camp held by Myanmar’s junta forces near the Thai border on Tuesday. The ethnic Karen armed group also took control of the Thee Mu Hta military base on March 27.

Myanmar’s military regime responded by bombing the brigade’s territory with jet fighters, forcing villagers to flee their homes. Brigade 5 spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Saw Kler Doh talked to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday about the fighting and air strikes.

We heard that the KNU seized the Thaw Le Hta camp from Myanmar’s military on the morning of April 27. Can you tell us about the fighting?

Our troops attacked the camp at around 5 am on April 27 and took control of it after an hour. But I have not received reports from our commanders about the exact casualties and weapons and ammunition seized from the military.

Some villagers along the Thai border said some military troops fled towards the Salween River [marking the border with Thailand] during the fighting and the military suffered casualties. Can you tell us about that?

I can only tell you when I receive detailed reports from our troops.

Why did Brigade 5 attack the base?

They deployed into our territory. In compliance with the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, we asked them to hold talks and withdraw. But there were no talks.

We live in our territory and they don’t recognize us. So the Karen National Liberation Army issued statements in December last year warning of consequences if they refused to withdraw. They ignored our demands. Then they seized power, detained the democratically elected leaders and imprisoned thousands. As people demand the release of their leaders, political activists and journalists and the restoration of democracy, they started shooting people. We are attacking the junta troops in solidarity with the people and to support the protesters.

We heard that the military bombed Brigade 5’s territory with jet fighters in retaliation for the attack. What has happened?

The jet fighters came at around 10 am and we heard they bombed Lawkho village near the Salween but I don’t know yet how many bombs were dropped.

What is Brigade 5’s long-term strategy?

I can’t say it for the time being. We support the civil disobedience movement and the National Unity Government [NUG]. We don’t accept the military council. We are doing what we can to support the NUG and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [the National Parliament]. Seizing power with force and shooting unarmed people is unacceptable. We have to do what we can to support the people.

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