Wednesday, April 8, 2009

KNU accepts junta’s offer for peace parleys

by Salai Pi Pi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s leading ethnic armed resistance group, the Karen National Union has accepted the offer of the Burmese military junta for peace talks through Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Monday.

Saw David Takapaw, Vice-president of the KNU on Wednesday told Mizzima that KNU had reacted positively to Kasit at the informal meeting held in Bangkok for over one hour on Monday regarding the offer of the Burmese regime for peace parleys.

“We told them (Thailand) that we have accepted the offer of the junta on peace talks, as we want to solve political problems by political means,” Takapaw said. “

However, he said the date and venue for the talks are yet to be fixed.

KNU delegates led by Takapaw and General Secretary Naw Ziporah Sein met Kasit, the facilitator for the talks between KNU and the Burmese regime, and other officials from Thailand’s Foreign Ministry in Bangkok.

During the meeting, Takapaw said, Kasit revealed the message of the Burmese Prime Minister General Thein Sein that the junta would like to hold a dialogue with the KNU for national reconciliation.

“They (Thai) informed us that Thein Sein would like to talk to us regarding national reconciliation,” he said. “He (Kasit) said he will act as facilitator.”

Last month, Thein Sein sought help from Kasit during his two-day visit to Burma to persuade the KNU to contest the ensuing 2010 election.

“If the regime is willing to solve problems peacefully, we are ready to talk,” said Takapaw, adding that the KNU will insist the regime first convene a tripartite dialogue and amend the constitution.

Meanwhile, Takapaw alleged, the Burmese Army is supporting the KNU splinter group, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) in launching fresh offensives against its armed wing the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in Kawkreit district in Karen state close to the Thai-Burma border. KNLA battalions have been retaliating using guerrilla tactics.

“Recently, the Burmese Army backed up the DKBA which was attacking us in Kawkreit district. We also retaliated in guerrilla warfare style,” he said.

“We (KNU and the junta) attack each other while we also talk to each other,” he added.

The KNU has held talks with the Burmese regime on five occasions previously since launching their campaign for self-determination in 1948.

The two sides were able to reach a verbal ceasefire agreement, commonly known as the “Gentlemen's Agreement," after the last round of formal talks between the KNU’s late leader, General Bo Mya, and former military intelligence chief, General Khin Nyunt, in the former capital Rangoon in 2004. The talks, however, came to a halt after Khin Nyunt was purged from the military hierarchy.

The KNU’s statement on peace efforts issued last month said, “Peace negotiations between the KNU and successive Burmese regimes have consistently failed because of lack of sincerity on the part of the regime in power.”

According to Burma’s state media ‘The New Light of Myanmar’ on April 4, Nay Soe Mya, son of the late KNU leader Gen Saw Bo Mya, led 71 Karen rebels and defected to the junta on March 30.

However, Takapaw said, among the 71 Karen who had defected to the junta, only four are from the KNLA armed group including Nay Soe Mya while the rest are civilians. (JEG's: misleading junta again massaging the figures to impress who?... I wonder who are the believers...)

He went on to say that 71 Karen broke away from KNU as the Burmese regime, particularly Maj. Gen. Saw Htay Maung led DKBA tempted them with money.

“It is better for KNU that such corrupt people defect” he added.

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