KNU to Discuss ‘Troop Conduct’ with Govt

By The Irrawaddy 7 August 2012

The Karen National Union (KNU) will hold a third round of official peace talks with the Burmese government in Pa-an, the capital of Karen State, on Aug. 27 which will focus on a “code of conduct” for the ceasefire currently in place.

Rebel leaders proposed the date and venue for the next round of negotiations when they informally met a Naypyidaw delegation led by Railways Minister Aung Min in Myawaddy Town, Karen State, on Sunday.

Naw May Oo Mutraw, a spokesperson for the KNU peace team who took part in the weekend meeting, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that both sides have informally discussed the mutual code of conduct with the aim of cementing a strong ceasefire agreement.

“We made some decisions in the second official talk that under a concrete ceasefire the livelihoods, households and properties of civilians who live in the conflict zones must be protected. We will continue to discuss this in the next talks,” she said.

In the meeting, KNU General-Secretary Zipporah Sein led the Karen delegation while Aung Min was joined by Immigration Minister Khin Yi, Karen State Chief Minister Zaw Min and Industrial Minister Soe Thein on the government side.

Karen leaders urged the Burmese government not to allow foreign or domestic businessmen to make investments in KNU-controlled areas which remain unstable.

Peace mediators who have their own business interests—such as Hla Maung Shwe, Kyaw Yin Hlaing, Tin Maung Than, Ngwe Soe, Ko Ko Maung and his wife Ma Su, from Dawei Princess Company—also took part in the Myawaddy meeting.

During the next round of talks in Pa-an, the ethnic leaders also plan to discuss the withdrawal of government troops which are still deployed in KNU-controlled areas of Karen State.

The KNU held their first official peace talks with government negotiators in Pa-an on Jan. 12 when they reached an initial ceasefire agreement. The second official round of talks then took place in Rangoon on April 6.

Government peace negotiators also visited Mae Sot, western Thailand, on Sunday where they met with Dr. Cynthia Maung, the founder of Mae Tao Clinic. The Thai-Burmese frontier is home to around 150,000 Burmese refugees living in nine temporary camps, and the Naypydiaw ministers said that Thailand-born children of Burmese migrants will soon be granted Burmese birth certificates.

They also talked with Dr. Cynthia about possible collaboration between Myawaddy Hospital, Mae Tao Clinic and Mae Sot General Hospital. Burmese volunteer doctors including Dr. Wai Wai Thar, the wife of Aung Min, also took part in the meeting.

The KNU has opened three liaison offices since signing a ceasefire agreement—first in Kyaukkyi of Pegu Division, a second in Dawei of Tenasserim Division and a third in Three Pagodas Pass in southern Karen State.

The Norwegian government is currently funding a US $5million peace project in eastern Burma which includes establishing liaison offices and needs assessments aimed at resettling the estimated 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons living in temporary shelters inside the country.