By KANTARAWADDY TIMES
Burma Army troops based in Karenni State’s Shadaw Township undertook a search for a forest camp belonging to the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) last week, a KNPP officer in the township told Kantarwaddy Times.
A group of 20 soldiers led by the deputy commander of the Tatmadaw’s Infantry Battalion (IB) 72 was seen looking for the KNPP property with the assistance of a local who was familiar with the area’s geography. The local was forced by the army to assist with the task, and has since been able to return home, according to the KNPP.
Burma Army troops were reportedly patrolling the area to shut down alleged timber production operations in the KNPP area.
However, Taw Reh, an officer in the KNPP’s liaison office in Shadaw town, said that there is no such illegal timber production in the area. He added that the KNPP has allowed local people only to cut down a limited number of trees in order to construct their homes.
“The Burma Army’s troops called up a civilian [to guide them]. The army said that they would go to arrest illegal timber [harvesters]. We don’t produce timber. We have only allowed villagers to cut down trees to build their houses,” Taw Reh told Kantarawaddy Times.
According to Taw Reh, the Burma Army’s troops tried to search out KNPP camps south of Perlo village, where KNPP troops once were active.
On January 22, a KNPP officer said that an officer within Burma’s military intelligence contacted KNPP’s liaison office in the Karenni State capital of Loikaw by phone and informed members of the organization not to carry arms when they hunt in the jungle.
KNPP officer Hpoe Reh said that the request was insulting.
“We are living in jungle. Why would they tell us not to bear arms when we are hunting in the jungle? It is disrespectful to us,” Hpoe Reh told Kantarwaddy Times.
The KNPP has already signed a state-level bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government. They are participating in negotiations around a possible future signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).