Karenni State Public Dissatisfied With Govt’s Lack of Peace Progress, CSO Says

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Ethnic youth in Karenni State say that the current state government continues to lack the public’s trust in its handling of the peace process after more than four years in office.

Kayan New Generation Youth (KNGY) carried out a survey that showed a decrease in the already-low public approval for the level of government engagement with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs).

“According to our survey, their performance has decreased a little bit,” program manager Mu Catherine said, pointing out that the approval rating in this area used to be 15 percent according to research on public perceptions of the previous government, but now it is 13 percent.

KNGY launched its Peace for People report in February 2020 after carrying out a public survey on their opinions of the peace process in Karenni State. The report came to the conclusion that there have been no breakthroughs in the peace process under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government and a lack of meaningful interactions with EAOs.

Mu Catherine argued that NLD party policy has given insufficient power to state governments to negotiate with EAOs and make progress toward peace.

“If they really want to build peace, they need to get agreements from all stakeholders,” she told Kantarawaddy Times. “EAOs must have the right to explain the peace process to people living in areas under its control. I think the government needs to listen to the voice of people.”

Khun Bee Htoo, chair of the Kayan National Party, said that the Karenni State leadership might be at the root of the issue.

“In my opinion, it is also concerned with the capacity of members of the state government. The previous chief minister discussed and negotiated around the peace process. 

But the current chief minister is placing blame on others,” he told Kantarawaddy Times. “I think the opinion of the people and my opinion are the same.”

In its 2020 report, KNGY also pointed to a lack of youth participation in the peace process, and criticized the state government’s failure to implement a policy on youth inclusion. The CSO demanded 10 points of change in order to build trust with the public, including the need to include young people in regional, state and national level peace process implementation.

“To restore peace in this country, government needs to recognize our activities to do what is right,” Shwe Moe, an ethnic Yintalay youth, said. “We are still far from peace because of government’s restrictions.”

Over the last year, Karenni youth have been arrested for peaceful protests and criticisms of the NLD government, serving jail time for both.

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