Myanmar Junta Slams KNU Calls for End to Military Rule as Confrontation

By The Irrawaddy 11 May 2023

Myanmar’s junta has condemned the Karen National Union’s (KNU) recent statement to continue to join with other pro-democratic forces to end military rule.

In a statement after its 17th congress on May 5, the KNU said it would fight to establish equality and a federal, democratic union.

The junta’s National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee stated on Wednesday that the KNU’s statement was not constructive, contradicted the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and would lead to confrontation.

It said it would stifle efforts to build a “multiparty democratic and federal system”, peace, stability and development.

“Armed struggle based on confrontation derails the democratic system and leads to terrorism,” the committee said, adding that the NCA was the only path to peace and stability.

Chaired by Lieutenant General Yar Pyae, the junta’s committee has held so-called peace talks since late last year with seven of 10 NCA signatories and three non-signatory: the United Wa State Army, National Democratic Alliance Army and Shan State Progress Party.

The junta’s invitation to talks was rejected by the KNU and Kachin Independence Army.

Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government (NUG) was not invited to peace talks. Its armed allies have been fighting alongside ethnic armed groups in Karen and Kachin states. Much of Myanmar sees the NUG as the legitimate government and the resistance groups as the country’s armed forces.

Like the KNU, the Karenni Army, Chin National Army and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front also rejected the junta’s invitation and are fighting alongside various resistance groups.

The junta’s committee said on Wednesday that the peace talks are open to all ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).

KNU spokesman Padoh Saw Taw Nee has previously said that the regime must first withdraw from Karen State and leave Myanmar’s politics before the group will hold talks.

“There must also be justice. We called for transitional justice in previous talks that we attended. The military didn’t accept it then. But this time there must be transitional justice. We can’t forget that they have killed so many. We must ensure justice and truth,” said Padoh Saw Taw Nee.

An analyst said the junta’s statement was an unsuccessful attempt to spread divisions within the KNU, based on the assumption that a few members want talks with the junta. He added that the fighting would continue in Karen State.

“The junta wants to divide the NUG’s forces from the EAOs and eliminate them but the EAOs have experience and know they will be targeted next,” the analyst said.