By Kantarawaddy Times
The leaders of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), whose armed wing, the Karenni Army (KA), is fighting the regime in Karenni and Shan states, said they’ll not meet for peace talks with regime leaders in Burma’s capital, Naypyitaw, until the dictatorship extends this invitation to all armed groups in the country.
”If all the ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) attend, we’ll also participate, but at the moment no one is talking about it,” Khu Daniel, first secretary of the KNPP, told Kantarawaddy Times.
Under pressure from the Association of Southeast Asian Nation for failing to follow a five-point agreement with the coalition of which Burma is a member, SAC invited selected armed groups to a peace dialogue on Union Day, 12 February. However, the regime didn’t invite the interim National Unity Government (NUG), set up by lawmakers ousted during last year’s coup, or the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs). Many of the PDFs are fighting alongside the EAOs, such as KA, against the military.
According to the SAC statement, EAOs who signed the failed Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and non-signatories are invited, but NUG and the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representation Committee (formed by deposed members of Burma’s bicameral legislature) and the PDFs, whom the regime calls terrorists, aren’t.
Khu Daniel said that no one wants to live under a military dictatorship and that it’s pointless to hold peace talks while excluding the other groups fighting for revolution and some of the key players such as the country’s popularly elected legislators. ”The political problems must be solved through dialogue involving all the actors in the country, including the EAOs and the parties that won the last elections.”
The KNPP refused to sign the NCA in 2015, but the EAO signed a state-level ceasefire with the military and Thein Sein’s government in 2012.
Khu Daniel said SAC calls the PDFs terrorists even though their armed forces commit human rights violations and war crimes far more brutal than any other armed groups. More than 170,000 people have been displaced by the regime’s offensives in Karenni State and fighting with the armed groups, which began in May 2021, several months after the coup. The army used to divide EAOs based on who signed the NCA and who didn’t, but now that it’s completely failed, they cannot do that anymore, he said.
An officer with the Demawso-based PDF said SAC’s statement was irrelevant because it was under the NUG’s central regional command and not the junta.
According to the Burmese edition of Radio Free Asia, most NCA-EAOs plan to attend the Union Day talks on Saturday.